A High Court judge has dismissed an application by Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to challenge an order by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to personally serve him papers outside Singapore on Monday (26 March).
The decision by Justice Kannan Ramesh, therefore, allows for contempt of court proceedings to commence against Mr Li. Mr Li is understood to require to pay costs of about S$6,000 for his challenge.
Mr Li filed an application on 22 December, challenging the order that the AGC obtained from the High Court, before it launched contempt of court proceedings against him in August last year.
Mr Li’s lawyers, Mr Abraham Vergis and Ms Asiyah Arif of Providence Law Asia, said in a statement to the media that while Shengwu respects the Court’s decision, he is understandably disappointed with the outcome, adding that Mr Li is considering whether to appeal against the decision, given that novel and important legal issues arose for determination of the costs.
Mr Li, 32, is a junior fellow at Harvard University, and is based in the United States.
The suit is in relation to a private Facebook post that Mr Li made on his Faceboook account, made viewable only by him and his friends. (read here)
Mr Li, who is said to be the favorite grandson of late Lee Kuan Yew, wrote that "the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system" which was referring to the constraints of what the media can report on the matter surrounding the public dispute of his family.
The AGC had earlier demanded Mr Li to apologise, in which he declined as he stressed that his post had been a private one and also contended that the post, when read in context, did not constitute contempt of court.
Mr Li amended his private post to clarify his meaning.
In an earlier letter to AGC, Mr Li noted that AGC has relied on an unverified screenshot of his private Facebook page in making its allegations and demands. He highlights that he had already made clear in a public post on 4 August that his private post, if read in context, did not attack the Singapore Judiciary.
"Any criticism I made was in good faith, and was aimed at the Singapore government’s litigious nature and its use of legal rules and actions to stifle the free press. I said I had amended my private post so as to clarify my meaning."
He further notes that he had explained in his response letter to AGC of 4 August, that AGC took what it believed, without verification, was his private post completely out of context and attributed to him statements he did not make.
Mr Li wrote, "I did not make any assertions in contempt of the Singapore Judiciary. AGC’s latest demands require that I make statements that are untrue and contradict my public post and my response to AGC of 4 August, and require that I apologise for assertions that I did not make. " and emphasised that he cannot confess to a crime he did not commit in return for a discontinuance of the legal proceedings against him.
He notes that AGC also continues to ignore that his post on 15 July is private and what he said in it is meant for his friends only. "My amendment to the post is also private: it remains inaccessible to anyone other than my friends. I am not responsible for the widespread and unauthorised public publication of the contents of my original post, which AGC complains is in contempt of the Singapore judiciary."