Singapore blogger gaoled for insulting judge-Global Voices

September 26, 2008

[FACT comments: There are similar charges in Thailand. One is not free to criticise courts and judges or their decisions.]

Singapore: Blogger jailed for insulting judge
Daniel Chandranayagam
Global Voices Advocacy: September 19, 2008 

http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/09/19/singapore-blogger-jailed-for-insulting-judge/ 

Former Singaporean citizen and naturalized American, Gopalan Nair, has been sentenced to three months imprisonment for insulting a high court judge on his blog. Newspaper reports that the court, in handing out the sentence, had stated that Gopalan had “scandalised…the judiciary and the administration of justice in Singapore”

On his blog, Gopalan had allegedly insulted Justice Belinda Ang in relation to a court matter in assessing damages in a defamation suit that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew won against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its leaders.

Gopalan (pic below) had allegedly accused Justice Ang of “prostituting herself…by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders”. In his defence, Gopalan said that he hoped to raise political awareness in Singapore on his blog. He admitted that his words might have been strong, but he was not remorseful as they were true. Gopalan had represented himself in court, and was charged under Section 228 of Singapore’s Penal Code, “Intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding”.

Gopalan’s sentence comes shortly after Singapore’s attorney general announced contempt of court proceedings it had filed against the publisher of the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal and two of its editors, saying their editorials “impugn the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore judiciary”.

According to Reuters, freedom of speech and expression, especially in relation to politics, race and religion, are tightly regulated in Singapore. While, the government says this is needed to maintain the country’s social and political stability, critics suggest it is misuse of the legal system.

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