SINGAPORE: Activist Jolovan Wham was on Tuesday (Oct 9) found guilty of contempt of court over one of his Facebook posts published on Apr 27, alleging that Malaysia's judges were more independent than Singapore's when it comes to cases with political implications.
Another person, the Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) John Tan, was also found guilty on Tuesday of the same offence in relation to a separate Facebook post on May 6 this year.
These are the first convictions for contempt of court by scandalising the judiciary, under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016, which came into effect on Oct 1 last year.
The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had earlier this year applied for orders of committal for contempt of court against the two men in connection with the publication of their Facebook posts.
"Wham's post wrongfully alleged that the Singapore courts lack integrity and are not impartial in the discharge of judicial duties in cases where the Government of Singapore or political office holders are litigants, deciding such cases in favour of the Government of Singapore or political office holders regardless of their merits," said the AGC in a media release after the guilty verdicts handed down by Justice Woo Bih Lih.
Tan's Facebook post, meanwhile, "wrongfully asserted" that Wham's post was true, it added.
"By publishing their Facebook posts, Mr Wham and Mr Tan impugned the impartiality and integrity of Singapore’s judicial system and posed a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined,"the AGC said.
Contempt of court in its various forms "harms the proper administration of justice" in Singapore, it continued.
"Left unchecked, such conduct can obstruct the determination of the truth and erode respect for our judicial institutions.
"This would in turn harm the public interest in the proper administration of justice. AGC will take firm action against contempt of court, including the institution of committal proceedings in appropriate instances."
Sentencing has been adjourned to after Nov 7 this year.
For contempt of court, Wham and Tan face a maximum fine of S$100,000 and a jail term of up to three years.