Law Minister Shanmugam condemns attacks on judiciary
By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 04 June 2008 1811 hrs
SINGAPORE: Singapore's Law Minister K Shanmugam said it is the duty of all citizens to condemn attacks made on the country's judiciary.
He was responding to questions at a community event on Wednesday on the recent behaviour of Singapore's opposition politicians, Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin, at the High Court.
This was during a hearing to assess damages for defamation to be awarded to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
The Chee siblings were found guilty of contempt of court and surrendered themselves on Wednesday to begin their jail sentences.
Mr Shanmugam said: "If you take a country like Singapore, based on democratic principles, and you look at the institutions that underpin our society, then conceptually, rule of law is important. It means independence of the judiciary and equality of everyone before the law.
"In order to have that – not just as a slogan but in reality – you need an independent judiciary that really protects the citizens and in fact, anyone who goes before the courts. People must have confidence that the judiciary is independent.
"In order to make sure that we protect the integrity of the judiciary and people's confidence in the judiciary is not affected, you have to be very, very strict with anyone who attacks the judiciary in scurrilous ways or calls into question its independence." - CNA/so
Singapore dissidents go to jail for contempt of court
SINGAPORE, 4 Jun (AFP) - - Two Singaporean dissidents convicted of committing contempt of court during a legal clash with the country's leaders opted Wednesday to go to jail because they could not afford an appeal.
Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and his sister and fellow activist Chee Siok Chin had been sentenced to jail terms of 12 days and 10 days respectively for contempt of court.
Chee Siok Chin told AFP Wednesday that they were unable to pay the 2,000 Singapore dollars (1,470 US) in court fees required to file their appeals.
"We didn't want to delay the matter anymore. We thought we should start serving the sentence," she said by telephone before they were to report to judicial authorities to start their jail terms.
The siblings were ruled to be in contempt Monday by Justice Belinda Ang, who heard a defamation case filed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, former premier Lee Kuan Yew, who is still a powerful cabinet member.
Insults flew when the two leaders took the witness stand last week and were cross-examined by the Chees, who defied the judge's admonitions about the way they grilled the ministers.
The hearings were aimed at setting the damages to be awarded following a judgement in favour of the leaders. No date has been announced for the final ruling.
The Lees have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and out-of-court settlements from critics and foreign publications accused of harming their reputations.
Chee Soon Juan is one of a few Singaporeans who have publicly spoken against the hardline ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and has been to jail repeatedly for defying laws against protests and refusing to pay fines.
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