Singapore

Li Shengwu's defence has no merits: AGC

His decision to withdraw from proceedings is acknowledgement of that, it said, while Li explains his reasoning on social media

Economist Li Shengwu's decision to stop participating in contempt of court proceedings against him is "a clear acknowledgement that his defence has no merits", said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) yesterday.

"The reality is that Mr Li is now facing some serious questions in the hearing, and it is obvious that he knows his conduct will not stand up to scrutiny," it said.

"He has, therefore, contrived excuses for running away."

In 2017, Mr Li - the eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - was served court papers in the United States over a Facebook post he had made earlier that year.

In the July 2017 post, Mr Li wrote that the Singapore Government is "very litigious and has a pliant court system".

The post was made in relation to an ongoing family feud between PM Lee and his siblings over the fate of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road.

THOUSANDS OF PAGES

In another Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Li, who is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, said the AGC's case against him has continued for years.

"During that time, the AGC submitted thousands of pages of legal documents over one paragraph on social media," he added.

He also said the AGC had applied to strike out parts of his affidavit, with the result that they will not be considered at the trial. It also demanded these parts be sealed in the court record, so the public cannot know what the removed parts contain, Mr Li added.

"This is not an isolated incident, but part of a broader pattern of unusual conduct by the AGC," Mr Li wrote.

"For instance, when arguing jurisdiction in the court of appeals, the AGC argued that a new piece of legislation should be retroactively applied against me. The court saw it as unfair for the new legislation to apply retrospectively."

"In the light of these events, I have decided I will not continue to participate in the proceedings against me. I will not dignify the AGC's conduct by my participation," he wrote.

He added that he will continue to regard his friends-only Facebook posts as private, and has removed his cousin - Mr Li Hongyi, PM Lee's son - from his Facebook friends list.

A key issue in Mr Li's appeal to quash the court order allowing papers to be served on him outside Singapore was whether a procedural rule - which specifically allows court papers for contempt to be served outside Singapore - can be applied retrospectively.

The Court of Appeal did not accept the AGC's argument that the rule could be applied retrospectively. It did, however, rule last April that the papers served against Mr Li were still valid.

The AGC noted yesterday: "Now, more than nine months later, he rehashes the same complaint.

"His basic objection is that he should not have been served with the cause papers at all. This is in reality a demand that he be treated differently from all others."

COURT & CRIME