SINGAPORE, Aug 19 — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has begun contempt of court proceedings against Terry Xu, the chief editor of sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC).
In response to TODAY’s queries, AGC said yesterday night that its application, filed on Aug 11, was made in response to a blog post on TOC’s website published on Jan 27 titled “Open letter to Singapore’s Chief Justice concerning omissions in ‘Opening of Legal Year 2021’ speech”.
The writer named Julie O’Connor had questioned how equitable the justice system in Singapore is, referring to the cases last year of Parti Liyani, the former domestic worker who was acquitted of theft; Li Shengwu, who was fined for contempt of court, as well as that of Lee Suet Fern, who was found guilty of misconduct in her handling of Lee Kuan Yew’s will.
O’Connor addressed her post to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and made references to the speech he made during a ceremony to mark the opening of the 2021 legal year.
Xu is now embroiled in a defamation suit brought by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over an article also published on the TOC about the Lee family’s home at 38 Oxley Road.
Xu is also on trial for a separate charge of criminal defamation for publishing an article in September 2018 that alleged corruption within the highest ranks of Government.
On the Jan 27 blog post published by TOC, AGC said that “the article impugned the integrity of the Singapore judiciary by, among others, insinuating that judges are not committed to the truth, favour individuals with political connections, are an instrument of political persecution, and decide cases otherwise than in accordance with their merits”.
By publishing it on TOC’s website and Facebook, Xu is liable for contempt of court under Section 3(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act, it said.
Justice Hoo Sheau Peng had on Aug 6 granted AGC leave to apply for an order of committal against Xu.
“As the matter is before the court, the AGC will not be commenting further,” it added.
Lim Tean, who is Xu’s lawyer, said in a Facebook post earlier yesterday that his client will “vigorously challenge” the proceedings against him.
Lim added that the author of the blog post “has not been investigated or charged with contempt of court”.
“As these proceedings would undoubtedly be a matter of great public interest, the AGC should release the statement they filed in court in support of their application so that the public can be appraised of the facts of the case,” Lim said. — TODAY