On Thursday, the High Court ordered Terry Xu, the editor of TOC, to pay a fine of S$18,000 for the publication of an article under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act and S$12,000 of costs awarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
The offending article is an open letter addressed to Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and written by Julie O’Connor, a former Singapore Permanent Resident, in 2021.
In the written judgement by Justice Hoo Sheau Peng, it is ruled that the article suggested that Singapore’s legal system favoured those who had money, power, or connections with judges, that judges were not selected for their courage to seek or determine the truth, and that the courts were complicit with the AGC in the political persecution of certain people.
While Xu argued that the criticism was directed only at the AGC and not the Judiciary, Justice Hoo rejected this argument, stating that the “system of justice” necessarily included the Judiciary.
The public prosecutors have earlier asked for a fine of S$20,000 and around S$18,000 for costs, while Mr Lim asked for a fine of S$3,000 and no cost in consideration of public interest.
The judge said that she was of the view that a fine of S$18,000 is an appropriate sentence in light of precedents of Jolovan Wham, Alex Au and John Tan, who were fined between $5,000 to $8000 and where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s nephew, Li Shengwu was previously fined $15,000 for a private Facebook post that he made.
Justice Hoo wrote that Xu’s offending conduct is more egregious than that of the other contemnors and therefore warrants a higher sentence than those cases.
The fine has to be paid within four weeks. In default of payment of the fine, a term of ten days’ imprisonment will be imposed.