Saturday, 26 August 2017

The famiLEE feud: AGC to start legal action on Li Shengwu for contempt

The nephew of Singapore’s prime minister faces court

“IN NORMAL circumstances…I would have sued,” said Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, in July. He was responding to claims by his siblings that he was secretly manoeuvring to prevent the demolition of the house of his father, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister, in violation of the terms of the older Mr Lee’s will. In the end, the younger Mr Lee said in a public statement, he concluded that such action would “further besmirch my parents’ names”.

Singapore’s attorney-general, however, takes a different view. On July 21st his office wrote to Li Shengwu, the son of one of the critical siblings and thus the prime minister’s nephew, to denounce a private post on his Facebook page as “an egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore judiciary” and one which “constitutes an offence of contempt of court”. It demanded that he should delete the post and apologise by July 28th. Mr Li, an economist at Harvard University (and a former intern at The Economist), had described the Singaporean government as “very litigious” and the country’s court system as “pliant” by way of explaining the cautious international coverage of his father’s allegations. “This constrains what the international media can usually report,” he said. Screenshots from his page began to be shared publicly.

Mr Li asked to be allowed to consider the request until August 4th; on that day he tweaked his message, but neither removed it nor said sorry. The attorney-general’s office duly filed an application in the High Court to start proceedings against him.

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Complaint Lodged with the UN over Contempt of Court Action against Li Shengwu
redwire-singapore-li-shengwu-x834

Non-governmental organisation, the Community Action Network, has filed a complaint to the UN regarding the contempt of court action against Li Shengwu. CAN said that it filed a complaint with the UN Special Rapporteur – a group of investigators appointed by the UN to check on human rights issues.

In doing so, it explained that “concerns that private conversations among friends may also run the risk of contempt were raised by the activists and members of parliament; the government’s clampdown on Li Shengwu’s private facebook post has proven those fears to be justified.”

The Attorney-General’s Chambers has filed contempt of court action against Li, the nephew of PM Lee Hsien Loong, for a private Facebook post in which he called the judiciary “pliant”. The AGO called it an “egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore judiciary and constitutes an offence of contempt of court.”

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Li Shengwu Tells AGC He Has Nothing To Apologize For
Li Shengwu Refuses To Back Down To AGC In Contempt Of Court Case

Despite clarifying that he was not attacking the Singapore Judiciary system, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) is still baying for Mr Li Shengwu’s blood.

This is unsurprising, given that Lee Hsien Yang’s son has continued to poke holes at AGC’s statements time and time again.

In his latest Facebook exposé on 21 Aug, Mr Li has released his response to the AGC’s continuous calls for an apology.

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Singapore court grants AG permission to begin contempt proceedings against Li Shengwu

Singapore's High Court on Monday granted leave for the attorney-general's office to begin contempt of court proceedings against Li Shengwu, a grandson of the city state's late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, over comments he made last month about the country's legal system.

According to correspondence released by Li, the attorney-general's chambers (AGC) had offered to stop pursuing the case against Li, whose uncle is the nation's current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, if by Monday afternoon he apologized for a Facebook post from July 15. In that post Li had said that "the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system."

In a reply to the AGC's offer, Li wrote in a letter dated Aug. 18: "The truth matters: I cannot confess to a crime I did not commit in return for a discontinuance of the legal proceedings against me."

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High Court approves AGC’s proceeding against Li Shengwu; Li contests AGC’s claims and notes its double standards

The High Court granted approval for the Attorney General's Chambers to carry out the committal proceedings against Mr Li Sheng Wu the son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for contempt of court over comments made in a private Facebook post.

Earlier in a warning letter to Mr Li on 21 july, AGC claimed that Mr Li made “false and baseless allegations” about the lack of independence of the Singapore Judiciary in his private Facebook post made on 15 July 2017, asking him to “purge the contempt” by deleting the post from his Facebook page and other online platforms by 5pm, 28 July. He was also asked to “issue and post prominently” on his Facebook page a written apology and undertaking drafted by the AGC.

On 28 July, AGC wrote to the press, noting that it went ahead to file an application for leave in the High Court to commence committal proceedings for contempt against him as Mr Li has failed to purge the contempt and to apologise by the deadline.

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Lee Kuan Yew's grandson left Singapore because friends feared he would be detained

A grandson of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s late founding father and ruler for more than three decades, said he left the city state in July after friends expressed concerns he might be detained by the authorities in a contempt of court case.

"In Singapore, it is possible that one can be detained and interrogated for some time without a lawyer,” said Li Shengwu, whose uncle is the nation’s current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in an interview with Reuters. “My friends had warned me that they were concerned for my safety if I remained in Singapore."

Li declined to identify his friends or disclose if they had specific information. Reuters has no independent evidence that Li Shengwu faced any threats to his safety.

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Li Shengwu feared he would be detained by S'pore authorities
BT_20170819_SHENGWU19__3043771.jpg

LI SHENGWU, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has said in an interview published on Friday that he left Singapore because of concerns that he might be detained by the authorities in a contempt of court case.

"I worry that Singapore's ruling party tries too hard to maintain a monopoly on credibility," said Mr Li.

related: AGC gets go-ahead to continue contempt of court proceedings against Li Shengwu

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Notes on Singapore’s Oxley Road scandal

Number 38, Oxley Road appears to be a fairly unassuming, stuccoed, gated residence in Singapore’s central River Valley area.

However the old colonial bungalow’s political capital has soared in recent weeks as it has become the centre of a convoluted and heated debate surrounding Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Since the middle of June, PM Lee has been mired in a series of allegations and rebuttals, aimed at him by his own siblings, in a very public spat over family property rights.

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Li Shengwu highlights PM Lee’s press secretary knew about contents of AGC letter to him

Li Shengwu has published in full the letters the Attorney General’s Chambers sent him on Aug. 8 and his response to them on Aug. 18.

Li wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, Aug. 21, that “the AGC privately revised its demands to me”, but “my uncle PM Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary was aware of these revised demands, and disclosed them on 18 August”.

In response to this turn of events, Li released both letters as Google docs (see below) into the public domain.

related: Contempt of court proceedings to continue against Li Shengwu even if he’s not in S’pore

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Shengwu Li 18 hrs

In a letter on 8 August 2017, the AGC privately revised its demands to me. Surprisingly, my uncle PM Lee Hsien Loong's press secretary was aware of these revised demands, and disclosed them on 18 August. Thus, I am making public both AGC's letter and my response.

AGC’s letter: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9jJAm-8bFh8Ml9wQVVfd2JEbE0

My response: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9jJAm-8bFh8MVM1UDk4Qjc1UUU

DRIVE.GOOGLE.COM: Reply letter 18 Aug.pdf

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How did PM’s private secretary get access to private AGC correspondence? – Li Shengwu demands

Li Shengwu has released private correspondence between himself and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, since his uncle, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s private secretary somehow gained access to the private correspondence and released private information to the public.

Shengwu was referring to comments made my private secretary Chang to news agency Reuters on 18 August 2017.

In a separate development, the AGC has been given permission to continue contempt of court proceedings against the grandson of late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

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Singapore court grants AG permission to begin contempt proceedings against Li Shengwu
Li Shengwu who faces contempt of court proceedings in his homeland at Harvard University

Singapore's High Court on Monday granted leave for the attorney-general's office to begin contempt of court proceedings against Li Shengwu, a grandson of the city state's late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, over comments he made last month about the country's legal system.

According to correspondence released by Li, the attorney-general's chambers (AGC) had offered to stop pursuing the case against Li, whose uncle is the nation's current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, if by Monday afternoon he apologized for a Facebook post from July 15. In that post Li had said that "the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system."

In a reply to the AGC's offer, Li wrote in a letter dated Aug. 18: "The truth matters: I cannot confess to a crime I did not commit in return for a discontinuance of the legal proceedings against me."

related: Li Shengwu says AGC accepts his private Facebook post can stay after amendment

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AGC to continue contempt case against Li Shengwu

The High Court yesterday gave the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) permission to continue with contempt of court proceedings against Mr Li Shengwu over a Facebook post he made on the judiciary.

Senior State Counsel Francis Ng told reporters the AGC has until Sep 4 to file the required documents.

Mr Li - the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang & nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - will be given all the documents for him to respond, said an AGC spokesman.

related: Li Shengwu says he left Singapore because he feared he might be detained

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AGC gets go-ahead to start contempt of court proceedings against Li Shengwu

The High Court has given the Attorney-General’s Chambers the green light to start committal proceedings against Mr Li Shengwu for contempt of court.

Justice Kannan Ramesh made the decision to grant the AGC’s application on Mon (Aug 21) afternoon. The AGC has 14 days to file an order of committal against Mr Li.

In a statement released after the decision, the AGC said it would next file a substantive application with the High Court for an order of committal against Mr Li.

related:
Mr Li will not return to Singapore to face the contempt proceedings
Li Shengwu amends Facebook post on court system 'to clarify meaning'
Li Shengwu's claim that he might be detained is 'inaccurate': PMO

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AGC to start legal action on Li Shengwu for contempt
AGC to start legal action on Li Shengwu for contempt
Li Shengwu made public his replies to the Attorney General’s Chambers on Aug 21

The High Court has given the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) the green light to launch contempt of court proceedings against Mr Li Shengwu, the son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang & nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Permission was granted by Justice Kannan Ramesh during a closed door hearing on Monday (Aug 21), bringing proceedings to the next stage, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng told reporters. The AGC will have 14 days — until Sep 4 — to write to the court to start proceedings, then serve court documents on Mr Li, so that he has a chance to respond.

A hearing can go on whether or not Mr Li or his lawyers are present.

related:
AGC looking into FB post by Li Shengwu criticising Singapore's court system
Li Shengwu says he will not return home to face contempt of court proceedings
AGC to start proceedings against Li Shengwu for contempt of court over Facebook post

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Which Lee family member gave away classified documents from LKY’s house?

The Court of Appeal released the judgment transcript of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang vs. The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) last week.

The younger children of Lee Kuan Yew and co-executors of his estate bid for control of oral history transcripts containing classified information that had allegedly been removed from the late founding Prime Minister’s home by “a family member” who handed the transcripts over to a government official, without authorisation.

In the hearing, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang put forth that prior to Lee Kuan Yew’s death, a copy of the confidential transcripts were kept at his home as he was working on his memoirs. After his passing, the siblings allege that “a family member passed them to the current Cabinet Secretary, Mr Tan Kee Yong.”

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In Singapore, Family Feud Deepens Over Facebook Posts
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore during a visit to the Philippines in April. His siblings have accused him of betraying the legacy of their father, Lee Kuan Yew. Credit Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency

Singapore’s government has been trying for two weeks to get the Harvard economist Li Shengwu, a grandson of Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, to apologize for comments he made in a private Facebook post that were seen as critical of the country’s leadership.

The Singapore attorney general’s office even drafted an apology letter for Mr. Li to sign, in which he would admit to contempt of court and to making what it called “false and baseless” statements.

But on Friday, Mr. Li declined to give in to the demands of the government, which is led by his uncle, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and refused to sign the apology. In the Facebook post last month, he said that some foreign news outlets engaged in self-censorship when covering the prime minister because of the threat of legal action in Singapore.

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Shengwu Li 3 August at 21:09

On 15 July 2017, I made a posting on a “friends only” privacy setting, for the purpose of sharing a summary by the Wall Street Journal of the political crisis in Singapore. I also added a link to an editorial by the New York Times.

An unauthorized screenshot of my private post was however taken, and given to others that did not have access to my private post. Without my approval, the unauthorized screenshot of my private post, or content from my private post, was published and republished by others, including by Singapore’s mainstream media.

The Singapore Attorney General’s Chambers then sent me a threatening letter saying that my private post is an attack on the Singapore judiciary and is in contempt of court. It is not.

No one who published or republished my private post had approached me to clarify what I meant. Curiously, the Singapore media had time to seek statements from a Senior Minister of State and the AGC, but did not even do basic fact-checking – they inaccurately reported that the post was taken down, because they did not bother to contact me.

If my private post is read in context, it is evident that I did not attack the Singapore judiciary. In the context of sharing the summary by the Wall Street Journal, I intended to convey that the international media were restricted in their ability to report on the recent crisis, due to the litigious nature of the Singapore government, and the different legal rules with respect to press freedom in Singapore as compared to countries such as the United States. There is also flexibility in Singapore’s defamation laws – they just have different boundaries from the defamation laws in other jurisdictions. The government makes use of these legal rules to restrict unfavourable reporting.

It is not my intent to attack the Singapore judiciary or to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. Any criticism I made is of the Singapore government’s litigious nature, and its use of legal rules and actions to stifle the free press. However, to avoid any misunderstanding of my original private post, I have amended the post so as to clarify my meaning.

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The famiLEE feud: AGC to start legal action on Li Shengwu for contempt
The famiLEE feud: AGC looking into FB post by Lee Hsien Yang's son
The famiLEE feud: Protest at Hong Lim Park
The famiLEE feud: Demolish the house, end the saga, let's move on
The famiLEE feud: LWL, LHY to stop presenting online evidence
The famiLEE feud: Lee Hsien Yang responds to Parliament Hearing
The famiLEE feud: Parliamentary Hearing on Oxley's Dispute
The famiLEE feud: PM Lee Hsien Loong's Ministerial Statement
The famiLEE feud: Why LHY is speaking up
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