Papers for contempt properly served on Li Shengwu in the US: Court of Appeal

In a 66-page written decision released on April 1, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Li Shengwu's appeal.
In a 66-page written decision released on April 1, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Li Shengwu's appeal.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal ruled on Monday (April 1) that papers for contempt of court had been properly served on Mr Li Shengwu in the United States in 2017, dismissing his challenge against the validity of the process.

The decision paves the way for the substantive arguments to be heard in the case against Mr Li, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over a Facebook post he put up on July 15, 2017.

Mr Li stated in the post that "the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system".

The Attorney-General started contempt proceedings against Mr Li the following month, after he failed to comply with a request to remove the post.

Mr Li's appeal against a High Court order that allowed the papers to be served on him in the US was heard in January this year.

In a 66-page written decision released on Monday, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Li's appeal.

The apex court held that service of the papers complied with a provision in the Rules of Court that permits papers to be served out of Singapore in cases where a claim is made under any written law.

"Service out of the jurisdiction was properly effected on the appellant because the AG's claim for the court to exercise its power to punish for contempt was properly a claim made under written law," said Judge of Appeal Steven Chong, who penned the judgment.

 
 
 
 

The written law in question was Section 7 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, which gives the court power to punish for contempt, said the apex court, which also comprised Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang.

Commenting on the Court of Appeal's decision, Mr Li said on his Facebook page on Monday: "I am of course disappointed with the judgment. However, the AG will still need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that my private Facebook post somehow scandalised Singapore's judiciary."

His post was related to a family dispute involving his father Lee Hsien Yang, his aunt Lee Wei Ling and PM Lee over the fate of the Oxley Road home of their late father Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore's founding prime minister.

On Sept 27, 2017, the Attorney-General obtained leave, or permission, from the High Court to serve contempt of court papers on Mr Li in the US.

The papers were personally served on Mr Li on Oct 17 that year at his workplace at Harvard University, and he subsequently mounted a challenge against the service process.