AGC takes action against Li Shengwu for contempt of court over Facebook post

AGC takes action against Li Shengwu for contempt of court over Facebook post

li shengwu
Mr Li Shengwu giving an eulogy at the funeral of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. (Photo: Screengrab via Prime Minister's Office/YouTube) 

SINGAPORE: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) filed an application in the High Court on Friday (Aug 4), to start committal proceedings against Mr Li Shengwu for contempt of court.

This was after Mr Li failed to take down a Facebook post which he put up on Jul 15, criticising the Singapore court system.

In its press release, the AGC reproduced the full post by Mr Li, who is the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

The post, which was set to “friends only” in Facebook’s privacy settings, included a link to a 2010 editorial published by the New York Times, titled “Censored in Singapore.”

In the post, he wrote: “Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system. This constrains what the international media can usually report.” 

Mr Li’s Facebook post was republished widely in Singapore after it was posted, the AGC said. 

On Jul 21, the AGC issued a warning letter to Mr Li on Jul 21, asking him to “purge the contempt” by deleting the post from his Facebook page and other online platforms.

He was also asked to “issue and post prominently” on his Facebook page a written apology and undertaking drafted in the terms in the AGC’s letter.

The Jul 15 Facebook post was "an egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore Judiciary and constitutes an offence of contempt of court," the AGC said in its warning letter to Mr Li.

It added: "The clear meaning of the post, in referring to 'a pliant court system', is that the Singapore Judiciary acts on the direction of the Singapore Government, is not independent, and has ruled and will continue to rule in favour of the Singapore Government in any proceedings, regardless of the merits of the case."

A copy of the letter was released together with the AGC's statement.

The AGC said it had given Mr Li until 5pm on Jul 28 to do this. But Mr Li wrote back a day before the deadline to request an extension until 5pm on Aug 4, "so that (he) may seek advice and respond".

The AGC said it agreed to the request on the same day. 

“As Mr Li has failed to purge the contempt and to apologise by the extended deadline, an application for leave to commence committal proceedings for contempt against him will today be filed in the High Court,” said the AGC in its statement on Friday.

Mr Li, an academic at Harvard University, had earlier said on Friday that it was not his intention to attack the Singapore judiciary or to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

“If my private post is read in context, it is evident that I did not attack the Singapore judiciary,” Mr Li wrote in a public post. “Any criticism I made is of the Singapore government’s litigious nature, and its use of legal rules and actions to stifle the free press.”

“However, to avoid any misunderstanding of my original private post, I have amended the post so as to clarify my meaning,” he added. The setting on that Facebook post remains private, meaning it cannot be viewed publicly.

The AGC's statement and accompanying annexes are reproduced in full below:



Annex A:




Annex B:



Source: CNA/gs