Singapore may sue Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones

September 12, 2008
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

The Wall Street Journal

Singapore’s attorney general applied to the country’s court for contempt proceedings against the company that publishes The Wall Street Journal’s Asian edition and two senior editors.

The application relates to two editorials and a letter to the editor that ran in The Wall Street Journal Asia in June and July that the attorney general says “impugned the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore Judiciary.”

The first of the editorials, titled “Democracy in Singapore,” concerned comments made in a Singapore court as damages were being assessed against Chee Soon Juan, head of the Singapore Democratic Party, and his sister and colleague, Chee Siok Chin. In 2006, the two lost a defamation suit brought by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over an article the Chees published in their party newsletter that was interpreted by the court to imply corruption on the part of the government.

The application to the court also refers to a letter to the editor written by Mr. Chee and a Journal editorial that cites a report by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute on “human rights, democracy and the rule of law” in Singapore.

“We are aware of the statement issued by the Singapore Attorney General’s office regarding the application for contempt proceedings against The Wall Street Journal Asia,” a Dow Jones spokesman said. “While we are reserving comment on the application until we receive official notification, we do not believe the articles were contemptuous of the Singapore courts.”

The Wall Street Journal Asia is owned by Dow Jones & Co., a subsidiary of News Corp. Another Dow Jones publication, The Far Eastern Economic Review, which is banned in Singapore, is defending defamation charges in Singapore brought by the elder Mr. Lee and his son, the prime minister, in relation to an article concerning Mr. Chee.

Singapore’s political leaders have previously won damages against several foreign news publications for defamation.

If the application is successful, a hearing date will be set and the respondents will have the opportunity to make their arguments in open court, the attorney general’s office said on its Web site.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122115696803124341.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Singapore seeks contempt proceedings vs Dow Jones
Robert MacMillan
Reuters

Singapore’s attorney general is seeking contempt proceedings against the publisher of the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal and two of its editors, saying their editorials “impugn the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore Judiciary.”

The move comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong filed a libel suit against the Far Eastern Economic Review, which like the Journal is owned by News Corp’s Dow Jones & Co.

Both cases involve coverage of Singapore’s government and opposition Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan, and are the latest in a string of legal actions brought by the Southeast Asian country against foreign news organizations.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement on its website dated Sept. 11 that two editorials published in the Asian Wall Street Journal titled “Democracy in Singapore” and “Judging Singapore’s Judiciary,” allege that the judiciary is “not independent” and “is biased and lacks integrity.”

The statement also cited a letter to the editor written by Chee called “Produce the Transcript, Show the Truth,” that was published in the Asian Wall Street Journal on July 9.

Along with Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc, the attorney general named Daniel Hertzberg, international editor at the Asian Wall Street Journal, and Managing Editor Christine Glancey.

“We are aware of the statement issued by the Singapore attorney general’s office regarding the application for contempt proceedings against the Asian Wall Street Journal,” Journal spokesman Robert Christie wrote in an e-mail.

“While we are reserving comment on the application until we receive official notification, we do not believe the articles were contemptuous of the Singapore courts,” he wrote.

The editorial “Democracy in Singapore,” published on June 26, concerned comments made in a Singapore court as damages were being assessed against Chee and his sister and colleague, Chee Siok Chin.

In 2006, the two lost a defamation suit brought by Lee and his father, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, over an article the Chees published in their party newsletter that was interpreted by the court to imply corruption on the part of the government.

In August, Singapore’s prime minister raised the stakes in his libel suit against the Far Eastern Economic Review, saying the magazine implied he was corrupt, court documents showed.

An amendment by Lee’s lawyers added the more serious charge to an earlier claim that the magazine had implied that the prime minister was unfit for office because he had condoned corruption by his father.

Singapore leaders have won damages in the past from foreign media groups when they report on local politics, including the Economist, the International Herald Tribune and Bloomberg.

In another contempt case in 1991, Singapore fined the editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal S$4,000 (US$2,777), the proprietors S$4,000 and the publisher S$1,000. The printer and distributor escaped fines but had to pay costs.

At issue was a 1989 story on a Singapore court ruling in favour of then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his libel action against Derek Davies, then-editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7791227