Singapore has decided that British author, Alan Shadrake 76, now serving an eight-week jail term for contempt of court, will not face separate charges of criminal defamation.
Singapore’s Attorney-General has reviewed the case and concluded that, although police investigations had turned up evidence of several counts of criminal defamation, they had arisen out of the same facts already dealt with in the earlier proceedings against Shadrake.
The Attorney-General declared, “as there is no public interest in commencing a further set of proceedings against him.”
The simple fact is that Singapore is bowing to international pressure and world public opinion. This sensitivity on the part of Singapore’s ruling party, the Peoples Action Party (PAP), is due to its being humbled and weakened by the recent election, where two if its cabinet ministers lost their seats in parliamentary elections.
Former Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo, one of the PAP’s leading lights was roundly defeated in the election.
Greedy Minister Ms. Lim Hwee Hua the 21st highest paid government official in the world was also thrown out of office. Lim Hwee Hua’s government salary is S$2.2 ($1,566,444 in US dollars), nearly four times as much as President Obama.
The election was so bad for the PAP that Singapore’s founder Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, and former Prime Minister, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, both resigned.
The case against Shadrake was built on statements he made in his book on Singapore’s death penalty, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice in The Dock.
Contempt-of-court proceedings were brought against him for the statements in his book, which impugned the independence and impartiality of Singapore’s courts—statements which bear much truth.
Singapore convicted Shadrake in November last year and sentenced him to a six-week jail term with a S$20,000 fine.
His appeal against the sentence was dismissed last month and Shadrake was sent to prison. His six-week term was lengthened by two weeks because he could not pay the S$20,000 fine.
Cases in which a defendant faces both contempt-of-court and criminal defamation charges are few and far between—and, as we mentioned before, there is world public opinion.
Singapore is beginning to listen.