Dr Lee Weiling, daughter of founder Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has posted yet another controversial post for the ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP) after her last Facebook post which described its party’s Secretary-General, Lee Hsien Loong as a “dishonourable son” and accused him of abusing power. Dr Lee and Mr Lee are siblings.
She wrote in her post, “This current government is not like previous PAP governments.”
Referring to the new laws on the contempt of court that are set to be entered into the statutes on Monday, 15 August 2016, Dr Lee criticised the reasoning given by the Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugan for why the bill is needed.
Sub judice was being touted by the Mr K Shanmugan as one of the reasons for why the proposed bill is needed. She argued against this reasoning, she wrote, “Ironically, Sub Judice rules were set up for situation where there is laymen jury who may be naïve enough to be misled by rumours or lead by emotion rather than logic as in religious or racial issues. It was this weakness of having a jury swayed by ignorance or emotions that lead our founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, to do away with Juries in Singapore courts. If your judges are so vulnerable, then the cabinet is at fault for its choice of candidates proposed to be promoted to be judges.”
She also argues that the penalty set out in the proposed bill is “very serious” for someone who may just want to speak out against an unfair judge and/or an unfair government.
Under the proposed bill, the maximum penalty for anyone found in contempt of court is three years in jail and $100,000 in fine.
Dr Lee recalls her letter which she wrote in Straits Times against the then penalty for Mr Tang Wee Sung in 2008. She wrote that whilst she wrote out of her pity for Mr. Tang and the sense of how brutally unfair the penalty suggested by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) was, the letter published in ST was worded with the help of Mr Shanmugam and his partner at Allen and Gledhill, Mr Lucian Wong.
She noted that she would have written even if both senior lawyers had not supported her, but confess that the wording of her letter would have been very amateurish. She goes on to criticise the law minister, writing that after being on the side of the government, “Minister Shanmugam seems to see justice only from the point of view of the government and the AGC always being right.”
She commented, “In fact, it is bizarre for me after what Mr. Wong and Mr. Shanmugam encouraged and supported me to do then, that Mr. Shanmugam now wants to demolish a tiny trail leading to some degree of justice for someone whom the government considers a nuisance.”
Dr Lee in her post, states that it can be very serious by providing a framework for punishment and setting a limit on fines and prison sentences for contempt of court.
Amazed at lack of vocal protest
She further went on in her post to state her amazement that there has been not much vocal protests by more Singaporeans apart from a few, such as a petition that was being submitted to Parliament and used an observation as to provide an answer to why people have not been speaking up.
“A phenomenon I observed this morning may provide the answer. I woke up and stepped out of my air-conditioned bedroom and immediately smelled smoked. I asked my two maids who sleep in bedrooms with their windows open whether they smelt anything smoke and they did not. I called a friend who also sleeps in air-conditioned bedroom and he too smelt smoke as he stepped out of his bedroom. Smell is a sensation that we quickly get used to and then no longer notice it if it lingers for less than an hour. “
Dr Lee comments that it is perhaps that Singaporeans have gotten used to an authoritarian government who until recently had always acted for their well-being, and so when another new action is taken, they do not even bother to think whether or not, it may be against their welfare.
Writing that the current government is not like previous PAP governments, she urges all Singaporeans, and all Members of Parliament and Nominated Members of Parliament to think through what has been proposed in the bill, and also to read the commentaries on the bill that are available on the internet.
- 6 notable cases in Singapore you cannot comment after 15 August
- Singapore’s Contempt of Court Bill has far-reaching implications for press freedom
- Why you should be worried about the new law on contempt of court