Li Shengwu reveals that he was “ambushed” with “court papers in public” last year by the Singapore government

The son of Lee Hsien Yang and the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Li Shengwu, revealed in a Facebook post today (16 Oct) that he was “ambushed” with “court papers in public” whilst delivering a lecture in “Scott Kominers’ brilliant market design class” at Harvard University.

Mr Li, who is an assistant professor at the university’s Department of Economics, had also suggested that the Singapore government was behind the incident, adding that the Government had “hired someone” to do so.

Mr Li was granted leave to appeal against a court order granted upon the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to have papers served against him for contempt of court in a ruling by the Court of Appeal on 3 Sep.

The issue of procedural rule, that is, whether the decision for court papers for contempt to be served outside Singapore may be applied retroactively, will be argued during the court hearing, in light of the codification of the law of contempt through the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act on 1 Oct last year.

The issue of whether the Singapore High Court has jurisdiction over a foreign-based defendant and the basis of the jurisdiction was repeatedly raised by a three-judge apex court previously. The court then gave Mr Li permission to appeal after hearing the arguments raised by both Mr Li and the AGC.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, alongside Judges of Appeal Judith Prakash and Steven Chong, outlined two other issues for the parties to address during the appeal, namely whether there was any statutory basis for the court to exercise substantive jurisdiction over someone who was overseas at the time the contempt proceedings started, and whether there are any other rules that could apply to confer jurisdiction.

The AGC initiated legal proceedings against Mr Li over “contempt of court” on 21 Aug last year, in which he had privately posted a statement on his Facebook, saying that “the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.

The post was related to the high-profile Lee family dispute surrounding the Oxley Road home of Li’s late grandfather and Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in which Mr Lee Hsien Yang, his aunt Ms Lee Wei Ling, and Mr Lee Hsien Loong were involved.

In a Facebook post dated 3 Sep this year, Mr Lee Hsien Yang pointed out the apparent unfairness in the AGC’s treatment of his son, Mr Li Shengwu, stating that despite “much stronger criticism of Singapore courts has recently been published in some international media and widely shared public posts”, the AGC, in his view, has not taken any legal action against such entities for publishing and spreading such posts.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang also highlighted that proceedings are unjustly held against his son over “his private communications”, as the Facebook post was “shared only with his friends”, unlike the public criticism often aired by international media and even other individuals.