Singapore AG accuses <i>Wall Street Journal Asia</i> of contempt of court

Singapore AG accuses Wall Street Journal Asia of contempt of court

[JURIST] The Singapore Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) [official website] on Tuesday filed an application [summons, PDF; brief, PDF] accusing the Wall Street Journal Asia (WSJA) [media website] of undermining the independence and integrity of the country's judiciary. Citing two WSJA articles, "Democracy in Singapore" [text] and "Judging Singapore's Judiciary" [text], as well as one letter [text], all published earlier this year, the complaint alleges that the WSJA attacked Singapore's rule of law, undermining the authority of its courts, and thus should be treated as contempt of court rather than libel. The AGC said that the claim was not an unjust restriction of the free speech clause in Singapore's constitution [Section 14(1)(a) text] because under common law, contempt of court is a justifiable restriction on free speech as a matter of public interest. The application for committal for contempt of court was heard by Justice Tay Yong Kwang, who reserved judgment. The AGC seeks to impose a "substantial fine." AFP has more.

In July, Singapore rejected [JURIST report] similar criticisms about its judiciary's independence from the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute [official website]. In September, a US blogger was sentenced in Singapore to three months of incarceration for insulting a judge [JURIST report].