Singapore

Mr Li Shengwu knew his Facebook post could spread, says AGC

AGC explains grounds for bringing contempt of court case against PM Lee's nephew

Mr Li Shengwu, 32, may have put his Facebook privacy settings on "friends only" when he published a post that allegedly attacked the independence of Singapore's judiciary, but this does not entitle him to claim privacy, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has argued.

It made the point in written submissions filed in the High Court for bringing contempt of court proceedings against Mr Li (above), the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The AGC said as he chose the medium of publication, it should be taken that he was fully aware the post could be disseminated to a broader audience.

This could "pose a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice", it said in documents obtained by The Straits Times yesterday.

The papers, filed in August, set out the arguments for the AGC moving forward with its case against Mr Li, the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang. Mr Li is a junior fellow at Harvard University in the US.

They revealed he had been served court papers on Oct 17 at his work space at the university by a US-based legal services firm.

The case centres on a July 15 Facebook post in which Mr Li said "the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system" and foreign media had been cowed into self-censorship due to previous legal action. The post was set to a "friends only" privacy setting but was published by websites and circulated on social media.

Mr Li had said it was not his intent to attack the judiciary. He said he would not have given approval for his post to be shared publicly and was, thus, not responsible for its "widespread and unauthorised publication".

The post was related to a family dispute over the fate of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's home at 38, Oxley Road.

The AGC argued that it is not necessary to prove Mr Li intended to undermine public confidence, only that he intentionally published the post.

Mr Li subsequently changed parts of it, but the AGC said his amendment of the post to clarify its meaning showed he was aware the phrase "pliant court system" was open to being understood at face value. The next pre-trial conference is expected to take place on Jan 4.

byseow@sph.com.sg

COURT & CRIME