Skip to main content

Singaporean Cartoonist Leslie Chew Faces Jail For Contempt of Court

Government lawyers in Singapore started legal proceedings against Chew Peng Ee, known as Leslie Chew, the author of the satirical comic strip "Demon-cratic Singapore". He has been accused of contempt for “scandalising the judiciary of the Republic of Singapore”, said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

The charges refer to four Cartoons that Chew had published on his Facebook page on July 20, 2011, on January 3 and 4, and on June 16, 2012. The AGC explained: "The present legal proceedings are aimed at protecting the administration of justice in the Republic of Singapore and upholding the integrity of one of our key public institutions." Leslie Chew is also currently under investigation for sedition after an allegedly "racially sensitive" comic strip was reported to the police. If Chew is found guilty of contempt, he may face a fine or imprisonment, or both. His case will be heard on August 12.

The move against Leslie Chew is seen by some as another proof that the People's Action Party (PAP), Singapore's ruling party since 1959, is further tightening its grip on political dissent and criticism of the government. Recently, the Singaporean government introduced a new regulation that requires websites that publish at least eight articles on Singapore over a period of two months and have at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month, to obtain an individual licence. The licence must be acquired by putting out a performance bond of S$50,000. Licenced websites will be compelled to remove 'prohibited content' within 24 hours after being notified by the government. According to the existing Internet Code of Practice, content that undermines "public interest, public morality, public order, public security, national harmony, or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws" is deemed prohibited.

Singapore isn't new to harsh punishment against individuals who criticise the institutions of the city-state. In 2010, British author and journalist Alan Shadrake (78) was sentenced to six weeks' jail and a S$20,000 ($15,400) fine. Unable to pay the sum, he subsequently served an eight weeks' jail term. In his book Once a Jolly Hangman - Singapore Justice in the Dock, Alan Shadrake had denounced Singapore's judicial system as unfair. He criticised the death penalty, the lack of impartiality and the favouring of rich and powerful people. Furthermore, he argued that courts are used by the ruling party to silence political dissent. The judge who found Mr. Shadrake guilty of the charges declared that in his book he made "claims against a dissembling and selective background of truths and half-truths, and sometimes outright falsehoods. A casual and unwary reader, who does not subject the book to detailed scrutiny, might well believe his claims ... and in so doing would have lost confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore".

The new licence regulation and judicial cases such as Leslie Chew's are seen by some commentators as an attempt by the PAP to restrain political change in Singapore. Alex Au, author of the blog Yawning Bread, called it "re-introducing the climate of fear". 

If you want to contribute to the fund-raising to help cartoonist Leslie Chew, visit the author's website.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei, China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. 
Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information.
Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution. In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 
In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterprises. Ren also secured soft loans from the local government of Shenzhen thanks to his personal co…

Chinese Dissident Zhang Jilin Detained By Police In Chongqing After Calling On Xi Jinping To Resign

Chinese dissident Zhang Jilin (张吉林) has been detained by police in the city of Chongqing after publicly saying that President Xi Jinping should be removed from office.
According to Taiwan-based Apple Daily, on January 17 Zhang talked about China's current affairs on a WeChat group. His ideas received praise from the group members, and he later told friends that he wanted to give a public speech based on the thoughts he had expressed online.
Other dissidents urged him to be careful, but he insisted that he had "the right to free speech." On January 19 Zhang went to Guanyinqiao Square, in the city of Chongqing, and delivered a speech about China's political situation, calling on Xi Jinping to be removed from office.
"I think it's time for Xi Jinping to be removed from office," Zhang told a crowd according to an audio recording. "The Chinese Communist Party will not do anything to the people. If you don't believe me, look, I have been giving a speech…

German court rules pro-Nazi car license plate can be revoked

A court in the German city of Duesseldorf has ruled that the license identifier "HH 1933" may be revoked by the Road Traffic Licensing Department (RTLD). 
According to Der Spiegel, the motor vehicle licensing authority of the district of Viersen had authorized a requested personalized registration plate featuring the ID "HH 1933." After a citizen issued a complaint, however, the license plate was revoked. The driver appealed the decision in court.    

"HH 1933" is thought to be a reference to the Nazi salute "Heil Hitler" (HH) and to the year 1933, when the Nazis seized power. 
On May 2 a court in Duesseldorf ruled that the RTLD may revoke the licence plate.  The court ruled against the Department's initial request that the driver replace the licensing plate. The court found that the Department only has the authority to prohibit the vehicle from being driven on public roads, but not to order a replacement of the licensing plate.