Singapore: Drop Charges for Criticizing Judiciary


Freedom House

Singapore authorities should end contempt proceedings against two critics of the government for comments on social media critical of the country’s judiciary, Human Rights Watch said today:

Jolovan Wham, an activist, was charged with contempt for writing on Facebook on April 27, 2018, that “Malaysia’s judges are more independent than Singapore’s for cases with political implications.” John Tan, the vice-chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party, faces contempt charges for commenting on his Facebook page that Wham’s prosecution “only confirms that what he said is true.”

“Expressing an opinion about Singapore’s judiciary should not be a criminal offense, and the cases against Wham and Tan should be dropped,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These cases make clear that almost any comment about Singapore’s courts can be interpreted as posing a risk – however remote or fanciful – of undermining the administration of justice, and subject the speaker to contempt proceedings.”

China’s government looks to Singapore, the only country in the region to modernize without liberalizing, in hopes of finding the key to combining authoritarian rule with economic progress and “good governance,” according to China and the “Singapore Model,” an article in the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy.

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