<Facebook post by Shengwu Li>
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.