The nephew of Singapore’s prime minister announced today that he will pay the S$15,000 fine (US$11,000) for scandalizing the judiciary three years ago – but won’t admit guilt.
Li Shengwu wrote online that he had decided to pay the fine to buy “some peace and quiet” but disagreed that what he said in the online post, which was only visible to his friends, was illegal. His announcement came two weeks after he was convicted of contempt of court. He would have to spend a week in jail if he chose not to pay the fine.
“I do not admit guilt. I have never denied writing what I wrote, to my friends in a private Facebook post. I disagree that my words were illegal. Moreover, civilized countries should not fine or jail their citizens for private comments on the court system,” the Harvard University associate economic professor said.
Li, who is the son of Lee Hsien Yang, was last month fined for contempt of court over the 2017 Facebook post, which stated that Singapore’s government was “very litigious” and has a “pliant court system.” He later amended the post to remove the phrase “pliant court system” in a bid to “avoid misunderstanding,” he said.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers filed legal proceedings against him after he refused to delete the post. Li said in January that he stopped participating in the proceedings, citing issues with his defense.
“Back in January, I decided that I would not dignify the government’s prosecution by continuing to respond. Even without my participation, it took six more months to arrive at a verdict, long enough for the government to mishandle a pandemic and hold an election,” Li said today.
Singaporeans went to the polls July 10.
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