Skip to content

Official Statement In Support of Blogger Alex Au re AGC Action


After the AG’s Chambers was given permission on Wednesday to take action against blogger Alex Au for contempt of court, the following statement was issued. I am pleased to say that  nearly 170 people signed it, including academics and civil activists. Sadly there are only a few politicians included in the signatories, John L Tan and Teo Soh Lung of the SDP, Osman Sulaiman and myself from the RP. Like everyone else I would like to see Mr. Au’s claims rebutted in public. We need to uphold public confidence in the judiciary and that means the public must be allowed to form their own opinions on judicial processes.

This is part of a larger picture in which the Law Society had its independence removed by Lee Kuan Yew along with the right of appeal to the Privy Council after my father’s conviction in the Singapore courts was overturned by a Privy Council judgement. We also lost trial by jury. In 2012 the UK Law Commission recommended abolition of the offence of scandalizing the judiciary saying, “You might commit the offence if you do or publish anything that ridicules the judiciary “. But what ridicules the judiciary more, removing the Law Society ‘s independence and abolishing the right to trial by jury, a fundamental right of the English legal system since Magna Carta in 1215, or subjecting the judiciary to some degree of public scrutiny.  You might find it helpful to read my letter to the Wall Street Journal in support of Alex Au in which I mentioned that defamation suits in the Singapore courts are used to silence critics of the regime.

Singapore 29th November 2013

We are deeply concerned that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has been granted leave to take action against Singaporean blogger, Mr Alex Au, for “scandalising the judiciary” in his blog post, “377 Wheels Come Off Supreme Court’s Best Laid Plans”.1

 

The right of free expression is enshrined in Article 14 of our Constitution.  We believe that robust public debate is necessary for national progress.  The AGC’s action, however, reflects an overzealous desire to police public opinion.  This cannot be healthy for a mature, first world nation.  If Mr Au had erred, then his claims should be rebutted in public. This would enable Singaporeans to make up their own minds.

We agree that it is important to uphold public confidence in the judiciary.  However, this cannot mean that our judges should not be subject to scrutiny.  The AGC’s action, rather than enhancing confidence in the judiciary, might weaken public confidence.  It also implies that the public is not allowed to form opinions on judicial processes.

International legal opinion supports the advancement of the law in respect of public comment. In 2012, the UK Law Commission recommended abolishing the offence of “scandalising the judiciary” because it is “an infringement of freedom of expression and out of step with social attitudes”.  The Commission noted that the offence,

“belongs to an era when deferential respect to the judiciary was the norm.  But social attitudes have changed.  Enforcing the offence today would do little to reinforce respect for the judiciary and, if judges are thought to be using it to protect their own, could strengthen any existing distrust or disrespect.”2

We note that the AGC action against Mr Au is not in keeping with the spirit of Singapore’s position at the 2011 UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights that “Political postings on the Internet are prevalent, including many that are highly critical of the Government.  No blogger or other online publisher has been prosecuted for such postings.”3 Further, this AGC action contradicts Singapore’s obligations in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, adopted on 18 November 2012. Article 23 states, “Every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information, whether orally, in writing or through any other medium of that person’s choice.”4

We call upon the AGC to help the Government of Singapore uphold its ideals and its international commitments, for the continued progress and prosperity of our nation.

Signed:-

Simeon Ang

K Z Arifa

Dr Charan Bal

Jacqui Ch

Sharmeen Nina Chabra

Xin Hui Supanee Chan

Qizhong Chang

Kenneth Chee Mun Leon

Jeremy Chen

Chew Kheng Chuan

Leslie Chew

Tania Chew

Priscilla Chia

Joshua Chiang

Damien Chng

Brendan Chong

Bryan Choong

Jean Chong

Chong Kai Xiong

Chong Wai Fung

Chua Chuen-Seah

Lucy Davis

Fazlur Yusuf

Fong Hoe Fang

Foo Hui Shien, Catherine

Assoc Professor Cherian George

Jessica Goh

Johannes Hadi

Han Hui Hui

Kirsten Han

Helmi Yusuf

Gerald Heng

Ivan Heng

Dr Russell Heng

Adrian Heok

Irene Ho

Sam Ho

Vanessa Ho

Isrizal Mohamed Isa

Kenneth Jeyaretnam

Kwan Jin

Shawn Kathiravan

Dr Khoo Hoon Eng

Koh Boon Luang

Dan Koh

Patrick Koh

Ronald Koh

Stephen Koh

Joses Kuan

Annie Kwan

Ken Kwek

Dana Lam

Vincent Law

David Lee

Lee Gwo Yinn

Howard Lee

Kevin Lee

Lynn Lee

Richard Lee

Lee Shiuh Meng Kevin

Philip Selwyn Lemos

Tricia Leong

Leow Zi Xiang

Dr Liew Kai Khiun

Corinna Lim

Angie Lim

Gary Lim Meng Suang

Lim Jialiang

Lim Kay Siu

Lynette Lim

Michelle Lim

Nicholas Lim Yew

Andrew Loh

Loh Chee Leong

Dr Loh Kah Seng

Andee Loo

Low Yit Len

Braema Mathi

Marayd McElroy

Haron Mong

Neo Swee Lim

Ng Mei Fay

Ng Yisheng

Roy Ngerng

Dr Noor Rahman

Brian Nugawela

Irene Oh

Kay Omar

Ong En Hui

Yanchun Ong

Stephan Ortmann

Pak Geok Choo

Vivian Pan

Engsien Pek

Ravi Philemon

Francisco Raquiza

Indulekshmi Rajeswari

Gene Sha Rudyn

Alfian Sa’at

Mansura Sajahan

Nora Samosir

Katerina Sandiman

Seet Cheng Yew Michael

Ariffin Sha

Rev Miak Siew

Siew Kum Hong

Frederique Soh

Onh Solly

Dickson Su

Osman Suleiman

Assoc Prof Paul Ananth Tambyah

Alvin Tan

Alvin Tan Cheong Kheng

Bian Tan

Caryn Tan Sun

Eugene Tan Siah Yew

Joe Tan

Joel Bertrand Tan

Jolene Tan

John L Tan

Tan Joo Hymn

Kenneth Tan

Kirsten Tan

Netina Tan

Petrus Tan

Dr Roy Tan

Serena Tan

Shawn Tan

Sylvia Tan

Estee Tay

Jennifer Teo

Kathy Teo

Teo Soh Lung

Professor Tey Tsun Hang

Callan Tham

Thaw Win

Melissa Tsang

Kelly Then

Shelley Thio

Ivan Thomasz

Dr Pingtjin Thum

Jeremy Tiang

Dawn Toh

Toh Boon Hwee

Jason Wee

Lawrence Wee

Jolovan Wham

Dr Vincent Wijeysingha

Andy Wong

Brenton Wong

Wong Chee Meng

Dexter Wong

Joe Wong

Melissa W S Wong

Wong Tong Kwong

Teresa Woo

Dr Woon Tien Wei

Terry Xu

Benjamin Xue

Julius Yang

Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao

Dezmond Yeo

Yeo Yeu Yong

Antoinette Yzelman

Rachel Zeng

Zeng Ziting

Zulkarnain Hassan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: