Friday, July 20, 2012

Contempt Of Court

Anyone keeping score? In the latest round of Blogger versus AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers), it was enlightening to read that the judge is not as thin skinned as generally assumed. We are given following assurance:

Expanding, the AGC spokesman added, "It is contempt, however, to say that the court was biased if there is no objective rational basis to do so." The emphasis seems to be on the word "biased", but still, you wouldn't want to tell the judge his mother wears army boots, or worse.

Members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) were sent to jail in 2006 and 2008 for wearing T-shirts in court with a picture of a kangaroo in a judge's robe. They didn't stand up in court and yell, "Your mother wears army boots". Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, but they would have less troubles if they chosen Ah Meng the orang utan for their motif instead. It's probably the bias towards the adorable Australian marsupial that got them into hot water, promoting tourism for Australia, and not Singapore. Bias is defined as "a leaning of the mind; propensity or prepossession toward an object or view". Compared to the antics of Skippy the Kangaroo, Ah Meng's monkey business is passé; you can't really get upset over free porridge, legal assistance or toilet upgrades during a by-election anymore. The golf expression for the new normal is "par for the course".

Or they could have chosen a picture of Merlion the national icon, forever puking its guts out. Spewing out your breakfast coffee upon scanning the morning headlines is more or less a national pastime. COE up, Medishield premiums up, inflation up, and you can still hold your food down?

We shouldn't be too harsh on our judges. Just look at the trained lawyer who gatecrashed a court proceeding, waving a confidential medical report like a too-good-to-be true Groupon deal.  He was just given a telling off, not charged with contempt of court.


  1. Cited from a commentator "loincover" ; -

    1. The AGC is not the Court. The Prosecution's (DPP) role is different from the Court. Both are completely different in powers and jurisdiction.

    2. The DPP decides on the charges against Wu and the Court imposes the sentences based on the charges preferred. The leniency or otherwise of the charges is the prerogative of the DPP and not the Court's.

    3. The decision as to whether or not there is contempt does not rest with the DPP. It is the Court that decides. Simply put, it is the contempt of "Court" and not contempt of "the Prosecution". The latter does not exist. Therefore it is not for the AGC to decide if there was, in fact, a contempt.

    4. The most the AGC can do is to make a complaint to the Court to initiate contempt proceedings, but that is all the AGC can do. Ultimately the Court decides.

    5. Unlike the charges against Wu, which is only the Prosecution's prerogative, the Court can order contempt proceedings against blogger ON ITS OWN, with or without any initiative of the AGC; and with or without any apology from blogger. It would be wrong to suggest that since blogger has apologised, the Court may not proceed with contempt proceedings. The Court still can and no assurances can be given by the AGC otherwise.

    In short, there is no business for AGC to demand apology and retract statement. So did they act

    1) kindly "with good intentions" for a general warning and light touch
    2) kindly with internal knowledge that Court may attempt contempt charges?
    3) to call it a bluff and to silent further critics and scrutiny from public?

    It pays to know your rights.

    1. Believe that is how the law stands. The AGC, having been very busy of late, must have been carried away, no ?

  2. This is a playing of words here. It is normally a judge who is biased or prejudiced that he/she tends to impose the wrong sentence or decision and in this case there will bound to be some criticism. How can you avoid criticizing the judge without implying he/she is biased?

    To me, this is as good as telling you to shut up!

  3. Here's a good post on related "contempt charges".

  4. Save My Singapore7/20/2012 12:45 PM

    I am keeping score.

    From libel to contempt, yet to see what's the next legal triumph card they will pull. Slander next? I can only applaud bloggers like you and AA who keeps pushing the envelops for everyone of the 'laypersons' out there.

    This very nice video (by mediacorp for once!) is sentiments of the public. It should have been the NDP theme, don't you think?

    1. 13yo flag burning girl should have penned a song lyrics and sing out her angst instead.

      More constructive that way.


  5. "It is contempt, however, to say that the court was biased if there is no objective rational basis to do so."

    Who decides whether there is an objective rational basis? The (alleged) biased court? The AGC statement above is neither "objective" nor "rational."

  6. Who punishes the judges when they act contemptously?
    Who in the legal ferternity stoood up to condemn the decision to abolish appeals to the indepedent Privy Council? Who stood up when opposition members were steam rolled with astronomical damages?Who stood up when a CJ could so whimsically rule that being in a polling station was not the same as being 200 meters from it?not even the Law Minister at that time.In essence, the whole legal system has brought contempt upon itself.
    Ironically ,we are aiming to be a legal hub.Well, I am sure the International Bar Association would be the first to congratulate our esteemed legal fraternity.

  7. Satire.
    Singapore Grandfather's Story.

    limpeh kali kong;
    "Singapore Medical Association supports & promotes Doctor-Patient Confidentiality."

  8. WANTED: Need a driver urgently.

    If you are local born talent, live in Singapore all your life,
    enjoy curry, and most important, love the people more than million dollar salary, please apply.

    P.S. The driver of little red car is seeing dr fones tomorrow.

  9. Hijacking the middle of a court proceeding under false pretences with the sole intention to influence a judge's decision and getting away scot-free without being charged with contempt of court, do these jokers treat the courts like a circus?

    Now with this kind of drama played out in the court,how will the public going to inteprete the judge's judgement?

    ln a case resembling Public At Large Vs People ln Power and depending on whose side one is taking,some people will be thinking it will only take a fool to make a wise decision considering the current complicated circumstances they have now turned it into,agree?

  10. In interest of transparency.
    We demand the committee members of the Law Society of Ass'pore to declare their political party affiliations.

    Is any one of them a card carrying member of a political party?
    We want to see a statutory declaration.

  11. Can someone enlighten me who is the prime mover to start Contempt of Court proceedings against Laywer Wong Siew Hong?
    Is it Judge Pillai, AGC, who is the one who will start the ball rolling?

    1. How about the Law Society of Singapore?
      Just pulling everybody legs...
      In a Normal country, it would be.
      But then,when is Singapore a normal society?

      Let us just wait & see, who will put up his hand (lee Chiu, in Singlish).

    2. In order to protect the innocence of the Pro Alien Party,
      All the Law Society committee members should be made to declare their political party memberships.

  12. dr fones and lawyer wong role's is to get the letter published by the msm without getting tat those who read will think "ah this ravi is mad.."nvm tat true or not..job done

  13. Aiya, no confidence and faith in the Justice, just say it straight mah. No need to blame this person that person when the system does not satisfy the expectation.
    When the car breakdown, blame the driver, the mechanic or the car itself?

    1. The driver, definitely the driver. Must be slapped left and right until he wakes up! Didn't he learn a thing or two at GE 2011?

    2. The driver is an auto-pilot.
      And the auto-pilot is broken.

      Learn to trust in the co-driver.
      He has been there as our faithful spare tyre all these years.
      Even though we just ignore him.

      He deserves better.
      He deserves our trust and vote.