Singapore Blogger Au Faces Contempt of Court Charges
By Andrea Tan - Nov 25, 2013 8:05 AM ET
Au’s Oct. 5 article insinuates there was a plan to manipulate the hearing dates on a challenge to the constitutionality of Singapore’s ban on homosexual sex, according to papers filed by the attorney general’s office in the Singapore High Court. A closed hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
The attorney general’s office in January warned that public comment on the case could be in contempt. Au, who apologized last year and deleted an article alleging that Singapore’s courts are biased toward the well-connected after he was threatened with prosecution, hasn’t filed a reply. He didn’t immediately reply to two e-mails seeking comment.
The first stage of the proceedings will be for the court to assess whether there is sufficient basis to proceed with the case, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
Contempt of court carries a possible penalty of a jail sentence, a fine, or both. There’s no maximum penalty specified under Singapore’s constitution.
Au is also in contempt of court by publishing a second article where he alleged the court had made an “erroneous” decision in an employment complaint where a gay man claimed he was unfairly treated, according to court filings.
Singapore in August dropped contempt of court charges against a local cartoonist, Leslie Chew Peng Ee, after he agreed to take down comic strips that he accepted misrepresented how Singapore judges treated individuals depending on their backgrounds.
In June, the attorney general’s office said a warning letter was sufficient punishment for a film maker in a case over videos where two men alleged they were assaulted by police to get confessions.
British author Alan Shadrake was jailed for six weeks and fined S$20,000 ($16,000) in 2011 for accusing Singapore’s courts in a book of succumbing to political pressure and favoring the rich over the poor. Appeal Judge Andrew Phang had said this was the “worst” case of contempt to come before the Singapore courts. Shadrake refused to apologize.
The case is Attorney-General’s Chambers v Au Wai Pang. OS1098/2013. Singapore High Court.
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