Terry Xu v Attorney General
For me the decision by the Court of Appeal, albeit disappointing, is not surprising.
The concerns that I raised in my letter to the Chief Justice affect many and are along the same lines as those included in the Freedom House 2022 report, which relate to the independence of Singapore's judiciary.
"Is there an independent judiciary?
The country’s top judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. The government’s consistent success in court cases that have direct implications for its agenda has cast serious doubt on judicial independence. The problem is particularly evident in defamation cases and lawsuits against government opponents. While judgments against the government are rare..." extract
Prominent opposition leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam has also made similar assertions, yet as far as I am aware he has faced no consequences.
"There is no separation of powers because not only does his party have nearly 90% of the seats in Parliament but he appoints the judges. In addition he controls the coercive power of the state, including the AG the police and the ISD and uses them against his opponents."
Now if I'm not mistaken, the decision making process to prosecute individuals like Terry Xu, Jolovan Wham etc, but not others like Kenneth Jeyaretnam includes their perceived 'reach' to the Singapore public. This deeply concerns me when this condition was used in the prosecution/persecution of Li Shengwu, because it appears that 'reach' can be manipulated if necessary.
Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that after only a few friends had viewed Li Shengwu's post, the AGC sent a screenshot to several dozen journalists advising that the AG was investigating it for scandalising the judiciary. If that is what took place, who should be blamed and held accountable for the 'reach' of Li Shengwu's comment which he had only made to friends? Does this open the door for Singapore's propaganda press to give 'reach' to comments made by activists or others as and when is necessary?
If we are then to talk about the perceived damage to Singapore's reputation, far more detrimental to Singapore's reputation than anything which Terry Xu shared appears to be the lack of appetite by the AGC to pursue the Executives/Directors of companies like Noble, EZRA Holdings, Keppel etc. The comments below are just two of a large number which were published this week. Iceberg Research having a far greater 'reach' Globally than 'The Online Citizen' ever had.
"We'll have a report Monday on the decision not to prosecute anybody in the Noble fraud and Singapore's regulatory shithole. No prisoner taken on this one."
"Singapore's "regulators" (MAS and SGX) are co-responsible in this fraud, in particular by allowing Noble to raise more money when it was known the books were rotten, and by trying to undermine Iceberg's credibility. No way these people would send Noble's managers to a judge." ~ Iceberg Research
The above leads me to question if the prosecution/persecution of Terry Xu, Li Shengwu, Jolovan Wham and others is a misuse of resources and nothing more than killing the chicken to scare the monkeys to ensure conformity from fellow citizens.
Yes, I think the average person may be left speechless, confused, and shocked at decisions taken by Singapore's regulators, the AGC and the courts, but persecuting individuals like Terry Xu et al does nothing more than exacerbate those feelings and angers the monkeys!
P.S. these legal proceedings are giving far more 'reach' to my website than any SEO specialist might achieve! Just sorry that it's at the expense of Terry Xu.
"In Singapore, there is this culture of fear. Don’t speak up against the government or the government will “fix” you." —Leslie Chew, cartoonist, Singapore, October 2015
"In Singapore, even if it is true you aren’t supposed to say it." —Alan Shadrake, author, London, November 2015