Singapore — Contempt of court proceedings against Mr Terry Xu, the editor-in-chief of The Online Citizen (TOC), have been started by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
The AGC filed its application for the proceedings last Wednesday (Aug 11) over a blog post in TOC entitled “Open letter to Singapore’s Chief Justice concerning omissions in ‘Opening of Legal Year 2021’ speech.”
The post was written by Ms Julie O’Connor and was published on Jan 27.
However, according to an Aug 18 Facebook post from Mr Xu’s counsel, opposition leader Lim Tean, “The author of the blog post has not been investigated or charged with contempt of court.”
The post was addressed to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and was written in response to the speech he made on Jan 11, at the start of the legal year.
Ms O’Connor brought up cases from the year before, specifically those of Ms Lee Suet Fern and Mr Li Shengwu, the sister-in-law and nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, writing that these high profile cases had not been mentioned by both the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General.
“This omission led many to question if it was because Li Shengwu and Lee Suet Fern were not prosecuted but persecuted due to a family feud between the Prime Minister and his siblings,” wrote Ms O’Connor.
Last year, Ms Lee was found guilty of misconduct in her handling of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will while her son was fined for contempt of court.
TODAY Online quotes the AGC as saying that Ms O’Connor’s blog post “impugned the integrity of the Singapore judiciary by, among others, insinuating that judges are not committed to the truth, favour individuals with political connections, are an instrument of political persecution, and decide cases otherwise than in accordance with their merits”.
The TOC editor-in-chief is liable for contempt of court under Section 3(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act, according to the AGC, because he published the post on the website and Facebook page of TOC.
Mr Lim wrote that he had attended a pre-trial conference on Wednesday (Aug 18) before Senior Assistant Registrar Dave Lee.
“I informed the Court, as Terry’s Counsel, that Terry would be vigorously challenging the right of the Attorney-General to bring these contempt proceedings against him.”
Mr Lim added that “the Attorney-General’s Chambers should release the Statement they filed in Court in support of their application pursuant to Order 52, Rule 2(2) of the Rules Of Court, so that the public can be appraised of the facts of the case” because the proceedings “would undoubtedly be a matter of great public interest.” /TISG
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