Contempt of court proceedings against Li Shengwu can start, as application challenging AGC’s order dismissed

Even though he is not in Singapore.

Belmont Lay | March 26, 2018, 11:47 PM

A High Court judge has dismissed an application by Li Shengwu, paving the way for contempt of court proceedings to commence against him.

The application by the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was to challenge an order by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to personally serve him papers outside Singapore.

The decision on Monday, March 26 by Justice Kannan Ramesh, would have Li pay costs understood to be about S$6,000.

Background of case

Li, 32, is a junior fellow at Harvard University, and is based in the United States.

On July 15, 2017, Li wrote in a Facebook post that the Singapore government was “litigious” and has a “pliant court system”.

The post was shared with “friends only”.

His comments accompanied a Wall Street Journal article he posted on the dispute between his father Lee Hsien Yang, his aunt Lee Wei Ling and PM Lee over the Oxley Road house that belonged to the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was Li’s grandfather.

The AGC wrote to Li six days after the comments were made. He was asked to “purge the contempt” by deleting the post and issuing a written apology on his Facebook page. Li did not do so.

The AGC then filed an application for permission to start contempt of court proceedings in the High Court, which was granted on Aug. 21.

The contempt of court proceedings were launched against Li even though he was outside of Singapore.

Four months after that in December 2017, Li filed an application challenging the order that the AGC obtained from the High Court before the proceedings were launched against him.

Li's lawyers issues statement

Li’s lawyers, Abraham Vergis and Asiyah Arif of Providence Law Asia, issued a statement to the media: “While Shengwu respects the Court’s decision, he is understandably disappointed with the outcome.”

Li is considering whether to appeal against the decision, “given that novel and important legal issues arose for determination” of the costs.

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