SINGAPORE — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will have another shot at pursuing contempt of court proceedings against sociopolitical blogger Alex Au over a blog post he made about the judiciary.
This comes after the Court of Appeal yesterday allowed the AGC to appeal against a High Court ruling last year that the AGC had no basis to act against Mr Au, 61, over the post, one of two that the AGC said “scandalised the judiciary”.
In November, the High Court gave the AGC permission to proceed against Mr Au for an Oct 5 post on his blog Yawning Bread, but it rejected the AGC’s contempt of court application for a second article posted on Oct 12 on the same blog.
The AGC filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision over the Oct 12 post, but used the wrong legal procedure to do so.
The Court of Appeal then ordered the AGC to file a new application.
During the court hearing yesterday, the AGC argued that permission should be granted for it to proceed with its appeal against the High Court decision over Mr Au’s Oct 12 blog post.
Senior State Counsel Tai Wei Shyong said the AGC will argue, on appeal, “that the second article, read on its own and/or together with the first article, is prima facie contemptuous”.
“The AG will also submit that the second article, which discussed, inter alia, workplace discrimination against homosexuals, ought to be read in the light of the first article, which referred to the constitutionality of the penal offence which criminalises gay sex, given that the two articles were published on Au’s blog within a close space of seven days,” he said.
He also said should the appeal be allowed, the AGC would apply for the two blog posts in question to be dealt with together at one hearing.
Mr Au also “remains entitled, and will have ample opportunity, to defend his case” at the contempt hearing, should the appeal be granted in the AGC’s favour, he added.
Mr Au’s Oct 5 post, titled 377 Wheels Come Off Supreme Court’s Best-Laid Plans, is alleged to have accused the Supreme Court of “deliberately manipulating hearing dates”.
In his Oct 12 post, Church Sacks Employee And Sues Government — On One Ground Right, On Another Ground Wrong, Mr Au is alleged to have accused the judiciary of being incapable of making independent judgments. This post was related to two employer discrimination cases that Mr Wee Kim San Lawrence Bernard, a homosexual man, had brought to court.
After hearing the submissions yesterday, the Court of Appeal — comprising Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Chao Hick Tin and Justice Tay Yong Kwang — agreed to allow the AGC to appeal against the High Court decision over the Oct 12 article.
Also, the AGC’s request for an expedited appeal, with a hearing date to be set for July or August, was allowed.
It also denied Mr Au’s request to contest the AGC’s appeal.
No grounds of decision were given at the hearing.