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  • Writer's pictureJulie O'Connor

Concerning Omissions - Open Letter to Singapore's Chief Justice

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

27 January 2021

Dear Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon,

1. I recently read an online comment by Jonathan Pollard, a US-based lawyer. He wrote: “If you build a legal system that is largely political, favours people who have money/power, favours people who know the judges and are connected to the power structure – it should not be the least bit surprising that the system is riddled with dysfunction and inequity. Likewise, it should not be surprising when the facts don’t matter, the calibre of advocacy becomes largely irrelevant, and outcomes that leave the average person speechless, confused, and shocked are par for the course.”

2. Immediately Singapore sprung to my mind, especially your Opening of the Legal Year 2021 Speech. I was also reminded of my fight against a system which I believe is riddled with inequity due to cronyism.

3. In your 2021 speech, it wasn’t what you said, but what you didn’t say that I found concerning. You said that “the quest for a sound system of justice begins with the selection of judges with the appropriate temperament, ability and integrity and commitment to carry out their heavy responsibilities. But even so, judges are not infallible.” You didn’t mention that judges in Singapore were selected, in addition to the virtues mentioned, for their courage to seek/determine the truth.

4. Neither did you mention two very high-profile cases in 2020: that of Li Shengwu and that of Lee Suet Fern. Yes, Parti Liyani, which you did mention, may have been acquitted, but the Singapore system of justice did fail her because justice delayed is justice denied. In the case of Lee Suet Fern, a Queen’s Counsel has stated that the findings of the Court of Three Judges were “legally unsound” and that it was a “serious error” of judgment to find Lee Suet Fern guilty of professional misconduct. Neither you nor the Attorney-General made any mention of either of these 2 cases. This omission led many to question if it was because Li Shengwu and Lee Suet Fern were not prosecuted but persecuted due to a family feud between the Prime Minister and his siblings.

5. Ironically, Li Shengwu was charged for comments made in a private Facebook post that suggested the judiciary is not independent but is susceptible to influence/pressure from the Government. It wasn’t Li Shengwu who is undermining the confidence in the administration of justice; it is the Courts themselves that is doing just that.

6. Aristotle stated, “Courage is the mother of all virtues because without it, you cannot consistently perform the others.” Were those involved in prosecuting Parti Liyani, Li Shengwu and Lee Suet Fern doing so out of out of a fear of the political elites or as a favour to them? To the layperson (e.g., me) the action against Parti Liyani appears to be driven by the need to protect the Liew family, while the actions against Li Shengwu and Lee Suet Fern appear to be driven by a fear of the Prime Minister.

7. If Lee Hsien Yang’s family members are not safe from persecution, then who is? Just how equitable is the system of justice in Singapore?

Yours sincerely

Julie O'Connor

Update - 10 March 2021

I wrote and published the open letter to the chief justice of Singapore. Let me make myself perfectly clear: I take full responsibility for its contents.

Sometime after its publication, my open letter was shared by a #Singapore journalist who has now had his phone and computer seized by the Police. He was also subjected to hours of questioning by the Police.

The journalist gave no input into this letter. In fact, he couldn’t have known of its existence until after I had posted it publicly. As the author and publisher of the said letter, the Singapore Police Force should be questioning me, not undertaking a political persecution of the journalist. Is it "killing a chicken to scare the monkeys"?

According to the journalist:

"Police came to my house at about 7.30 am and seized my phone and computer for an investigation. They asked that I not share any details on the investigation.

Have also been asked to attend an interview at Police Cantonment Complex tomorrow at 10am."

Finished my interview at Cantonment complex with the Police. Interview was about two hours, shorter than what it would have been as I declined to answer questions in regards to the operation of the website, such as staffing and its financial model.

The investigation that led to my phone and computer being seized, is looking into a possible offence under the Administration of Justice Act for the publication of a letter on 27 Jan 2021."


During the legal proceedings taken against Terry Xu for sharing the open letter below, Public Prosecutor Tan claimed that my remark following the quote was "...that it brought to her mind Singapore and her experience with regard to the judiciary." PP Tan is totally incorrect, because my own personal experience was NOT with the judiciary, but with the SPF and AGC. The AG is well aware that the concerns that I have repeatedly raised have been with the actions or inaction of the SPF and the AGC, NOT the judiciary.

Also, I believe the Court was told that I had removed this letter from social media. That information is also incorrect, in addition to my website it is still shown on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Also, let's be clear, no-one from the SPF or AGC reached out to ME prior to charging Terry Xu with Contempt of Court for the letter which I wrote and published. I have offered on numerous occasions to speak with authorities about my concerns because I have nothing to hide.

"Court to AGC: If she was in Singapore - would you have prosecuted her? (she is me)

AGC: We will have to assess

Court: I am surprised to hear that

Court: As Mr Lim Tean said - if you had even written a letter to Julie O' Conner - she may have been willing to be investigated (which she stated and invited the police to investigate her) and also come to Singapore

AGC: If we had sent her a letter and she did not respond positively, it would be the "practical steps" as to what do we do next?"

Extract from Freedom House - Singapore 2022


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