Whether or not local cartoonist Leslie Chew will be charged for sedition and/or contempt of court will likely be known by May 11. That is the day the 37-year-old was asked to report to the police again following about two hours of questioning on Tuesday, according to his lawyers.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that the man behind the online comic strip Demon-cratic Singapore has officially appointed two lawyers to co-represent him. They are Mr Choo Zheng Xi of Peter Low LLC, who had already been providing Mr Chew with legal advice, and Mr M Ravi of LF Violet Netto, who is known for fighting human rights cases.
Mr Chew, a full-time illustrator, claims on his Facebook page that Demon-cratic Singapore is the "full name" of a fictional country, which is "often referred to as Singapore for short". He also says the series is "a totally fictional comic with entirely fictional characters based on wholly fictional events".
The probe into alleged sedition pertains to a "racially insensitive" work dated March 27, for which a police report was lodged by a member of the public. The cartoon was about how an allegedly fictional government had suppressed the Malay population. Under Section 4(c) of the Sedition Act, it is an offence to publish content that may bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government or the administration of justice in Singapore, or to raise discontent or disaffection among its citizens or residents.
His lawyers also said that Mr Chew is the subject of a possible contempt of court charge due to a another comic strip dated Dec 14, which had suggested the court was unduly influenced by politics. The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) declined to confirm this due to the ongoing police investigations.
At the time, the AGC had written a letter to him saying that the cartoon "scandalises our Courts through allegations and imputations that are scurrilous and false". But the cartoon was never taken down and no apology was made. Mr Choo had said that no action was taken until now. It is understood that this was because he had just returned from abroad.
The AGC had said in a statement issued last Saturday that "any statement or action that seeks to impugn or undermine the independence of the Judiciary" will similarly be met with action because "the rule of law is another fundamental tenet of our society", and "unwarranted allegations of bias or partiality strike at the heart of the judicial process".