Not my intent to attack judiciary, Li Shengwu says in new Facebook post

Mr Li Shengwu, eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, delivering his eulogy for his grandfather, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at the Mandai Crematorium on Mar 29, 2015.
Mr Li Shengwu, eldest son of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, delivering his eulogy for his grandfather, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at the Mandai Crematorium on Mar 29, 2015.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Mr Li Shengwu, nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, failed to meet yesterday's deadline by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to remove a Facebook post which allegedly attacked the independence of the Singapore judiciary.

Instead, Mr Li, 32, responded with another Facebook post, saying he had not intended to attack the judiciary in the July 15 Facebook post.

He said: "It is not my intent to attack the Singapore judiciary or to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

"Any criticism I made is of the Singapore Government's litigious nature, and its use of legal rules and actions to stifle the free press.

"However, to avoid any misunderstanding of my original private post, I have amended the post so as to clarify my meaning."

His amended post was not made public on his Facebook page.

The AGC had written to Mr Li on July 21 asking that he remove the offending Facebook post, which it said was in contempt of court.

It also asked Mr Li to sign and publish on Facebook a public apology.

In the earlier post, made on a "friends only" setting, Mr Li shared a Wall Street Journal article that gave a summary of the dispute his father Lee Hsien Yang and aunt Lee Wei Ling had with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over the Oxley Road house of his late grandfather, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Yesterday, Mr Li said in his Facebook post: "If my private post is read in context, it is evident that I did not attack the Singapore judiciary."

In the context of sharing the WSJ article, he said he had "intended to convey that the international media were restricted in their ability to report on the recent crisis, due to the litigious nature of the Singapore Government, and the different legal rules with respect to press freedom in Singapore as compared to countries such as the United States".

"There is also flexibility in Singapore's defamation laws - they just have different boundaries from the defamation laws in other jurisdictions. The Government makes use of these legal rules to restrict unfavourable reporting," he added.

He said an "unauthorised screenshot" of his private post was taken and given to others who did not have access, leading to it being republished without his consent. "No one who published or republished my private post had approached me to clarify what I meant. Curiously, the Singapore media had time to seek statements from a senior minister of state and the AGC, but did not even do basic fact-checking - they inaccurately reported that the post was taken down, because they did not bother to contact me."

Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Not my intent to attack judiciary, Li says in new Facebook post'. Print Edition | Subscribe