Starting Tuesday, 21 October 2014, High Court Judge Justice Belinda Ang will be hearing the case against me launched by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (“AGC”) in Court 5A of the Supreme Court building.
Two days (Oct 21 and 23) have been set aside by the court, with a third day (Oct 24) held in reserve.
The AGC alleges contempt of Court (scandalising the judiciary) on my part over passages I had written October last year in two articles on my blog Yawning Bread, and seeks to commit me to prison.
The first of two articles, “377 wheels come off Supreme Court’s best-laid plans”, referred to the Section 377A constitutional challenges filed by Tan Eng Hong, and Gary Lim Meng Suang and Kenneth Chee Mun-Leon, and the second article, “Church sacks employee and sues government — on one ground right, on another wrong”, referred to the case between Lawrence Wee and Robinsons.
I have instructed my lawyers, Mr Peter Low and Mr Choo Zheng Xi to strenuously rebut the AGC’s arguments.
Previous decisions have recognised that Contempt should be narrowly defined to be consistent with “the need in a democratic society for public scrutiny of the conduct of judges, and for the right of citizens to comment on matters of public concern”, and that a “real risk” test has to be satisfied.
I take the view that my writings constituted fair criticism, and that the function of the concept of fair criticism is to protect the individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression.
For the purposes of the hearing, my lawyers have filed a 37-page submission to argue that I am not guilty of contempt of Court in relation to both articles.
In November 2013, the AGC asked the High Court for leave to cite me for Contempt of Court (scandalising the judiciary) over passages I had written in the two articles. At the first application, leave was granted to the AGC to proceed on the first article but not on the second article.
The AGC’s initial attempt to reverse the High Court’s refusal to grant leave for the second article did not succeed for procedural reasons.
Over the following months, the AGC sought an extension of time to file an appeal (to reverse the High Court’s denial of leave over the second article). An extension of time was eventually given in May 2014; and the AGC’s appeal succeeded in July 2014.
Thus, I am now combating contempt of Court charges over both articles.