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SDP vice-chairman seeks public donations to defray legal costs

John Tan made a public appeal for donations on Nov 2 to "fight another day for free speech and social justice in Singapore"

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Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) vice-chairman John Tan has made a public appeal for donations, to help him defray the legal costs he incurred fighting a charge of scandalising the jury in court, over the past two years.

On 27 April 2018, activist and fellow SDP member Jolovan Wham made a Facebook post claiming that the judges in Malaysia were more independent than those in Singapore when it came to cases with political implications. The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) initiated legal action against Mr Wham over the post.

Mr Tan subsequently made a Facebook post of his own, in which he suggested that the AGC’s action against Mr Wham confirmed the truth of what he had written. The AGC proceeded to initiate contempt of court legal proceedings against Mr Tan, as well.

Both Mr Tan and Mr Wham were found guilty of scandalising the judiciary in 2018 and became the first to be convicted under new contempt of court laws that came into effect in October 2017. Mr Tan appealed the judgment in 2019 but his appeal failed. He was slapped with a S$5,000 fine and, by implication, barred from contesting elections for five years.

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Although Mr Tan’s lawyers acted for him pro bono, he incurred hefty legal costs up to S$37,434.10 due to the case.

On Monday (2 Nov), the SDP chairman made a public appeal for donations to help defray the legal costs so that he can “fight another day for free speech and social justice in Singapore.” 

Fellow SDP members like chairman Paul Tambyah, James Gomez, Jufri Salim and Damanhuri Bin Abas vouched for Mr Tan and urged Singaporeans to support him. Read the appeal in full here.

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