British author Alan Shadrake starts S’pore jail term for contempt


A 76-year-old British writer who published a book denouncing judicial hangings in Singapore started a prison term today for contempt.

Alan Shadrake, who , turned himself in at the High Court.

On Friday he lost his appeal against a six-week sentence, the toughest ever imposed in Singapore for contempt.

Shadrake could not afford to pay a Sg$20,000 ($15,175) fine on top of the prison term, resulting in another two weeks in jail, taking the term to eight weeks in total. He could be released earlier for good behaviour.

He was allowed to undergo a medical test before serving his sentence.

“I feel fine. I feel that Singapore has shamed itself again by jailing me,” Shadrake said by phone.

“For Singapore not to allow this free expression, to jail someone for their opinions… it’s bloody nonsense,” added the author of Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.

His book includes a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore’s Changi Prison who, according to the author, hanged around 1,000 men and women including foreigners from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

Shadrake’s book features interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, and alleges that some cases involving foreigners may have been influenced by diplomatic and trade considerations.

He was arrested by Singapore police in July last year while visiting the city to launch the first edition of his book, which was first published in neighbouring Malaysia.

Shadrake said previously that the second edition of his book was already on sale in Australia and was due to be launched in Britain on June 1.