Activists to be charged for contempt of court

October 14, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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John Tan

John Tan

Isrizal

Isrizal

Shaffi'ie

Shaffi’ie

Singapore Democrats

Three activists, including SDP’s assistant secretary-general Mr John L Tan, will be charged for contempt of court.

Attorney-General Walter Woon will commence contempt proceedings against Mr Tan, Mr Isrizal Bin Mohamed Isa and Mr Muhammad Shafi’ie for wearing T-shirts with a picture of a kangaroo wearing a judge’s robe.

A statement on the AG’s Chambers’ (AGC) website stated that the three men were photographed wearing the T-shirts outside the Supreme Court during the defamation hearing between Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and the SDP from 26-28 May 08.

The Singapore Democrats’ website is cited by the AGC for reproducing the photograph of the three activists wearing the T-shirts. The photograph appeared in an SDP report of the police investigation. The statement said that the article and photograph were meant to give “wider publicity to the allegation that the Court was a kangaroo court.”

But the photograph and a report first appeared in the Straits Times the day after the activists appeared outside the courthouse. The SDP only reported about the police investigation on 27 Jul 08, a full two months after the Straits Times story was published. But the AGC’s statement makes absolutely no mention of the newspaper and its photograph.

For its part, the Straits Times in its report today kept very quiet about the photograph it published on 27 May.

AG Woon adds that Messrs Tan, Isrizal and Shafi’ie “have engaged in a deliberate and calculated course of action to impugn the reputation of and undermine public confidence in the Singapore Judiciary, and to lower its authority in the administration of justice in Singapore.”

The statement also indicated that Mr Tan had said to Mr Lee Kuan Yew: “This is a kangaroo court.”

The AGC took pains to point out that under common (English) law, the courts have the power to punish persons for contempt and added that “unlike in many other countries (including England and Australia), the Attorney-General is not a politician.” In Singapore he is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.