M Ravi, the lawyer representing CPF blogger Roy Ngerng who is currently being successfully sued by the prime minister, has issued a press release on Jan. 18, 2015 through his trainee lawyer.
In the statement, it was written that Ravi was dissociating himself from an article published on Asia Sentinel, a website that doesn't appear to be very stringent with their aggregation of content.
Titled "Singapore’s Hypocrisy on Paris and Free Speech", the piece was initially signed off with Ravi's name together with five others, who put down their names at the end of the piece: Han Hui Hui, Roy Ngerng, Martyn See, filmmaker, Alan Shadrake, author and former journalist and Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary general of the Reform Party.
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However, Ravi's dissociation from the article is telling as the piece contains many potentially libellous accusations against the court in Singapore and the prime minister that even we cannot reproduce, or else, we will be propagating the libel.
This calculated dissociation is also understandable as any contempt of court or defamation proceedings against Ravi could jeopardise his defence of other individuals he is representing in the event he gets struck off from the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors in Singapore.
Besides looking as if publishing the article and attributing authorship to him without his consent was an unintended sabotage, drawing a line between Ravi and the rest strongly hints that the co-authoring of the article was not as coordinated as it appears nor was appropriate levels of caution taken to have it vetted by a lawyer beforehand.
Below is the statement by M Ravi’s trainee lawyer, emphasis in bold as it appears originally:
My mentor, Mr M Ravi is a human rights lawyer from Singapore who is representing his client Roy Ngerng who is currently facing defamation proceedings brought by the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong .
I refer to the article in the Guardian and Asian Sentinel that was just published, namely, “Attacks on freedom come in many guises: The Singapore Model”. Mr M Ravi’s name had been purportedly included as one of the 6 who had signed the letter referred to in the article .
Mr M Ravi wishes to say that he takes serious and strong objection to the inclusion of his name in the statement as he was not informed of the same and furthermore, he was not asked for his approval prior to the release of the article. He stresses that he did not sign the statement and the inclusion of his name was an act done without his authorisation.
As Roy’s counsel, a conflict of interest and duty would be created should Mr M Ravi’s name appear in the said letter as Mr M Ravi is acting for Roy in his current defamation suit which could be cited by the Prime Minister in applying to court to discharge Mr M Ravi from acting further in representing Roy.
In addition, this letter would attract contempt of court proceedings, something which would be extremely unjustified at law to hold Mr M Ravi liable for as he was not privy to the contents of the letter before the release. On the contrary, the letter and article was published without his knowledge or consent.
This concern of his is not borne out of fear but one of responsibility and duty to many clients (including much respected activists like Filmmaker Martyn See, esteemed politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam, courageous activists like Hui Hui and Roy ) and more importantly death row inmates who depend on his representation in court and he stresses that if he were to be struck off from the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors in Singapore, all of the said individuals would lose that access to justice and legal representation, a vital role that he is providing to them in Singapore now.
Please take note of the abovementioned matters and assist to publicise the fact that the letter was signed by 5 individuals and NOT 6.
Finally Mr M Ravi stresses that he will refer to this email dissociating himself from the captioned article in any contemplated contempt of Court or Defamation proceedings against him by the State or Mr.Lee