US lawyer charged in S’pore for insulting judge in blog, email

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A regional press freedom watchdog, Seapa, has highlighted the case of a Singaporean-American lawyer who has been charged in a Singaporean court for allegedly insulting a judge in emails and his blog.

A Singaporean-American lawyer has been charged in a Singaporean court for allegedly insulting a judge in emails and his blog, wire reports say.

A Reuters dispatch on 2 June 2008 said that “Gopalan Nair, who runs a law firm in California and was reviously a Singapore citizen, was arrested last Friday and harged for ‘threatening, abusing or insulting a public servant’ in an email he circulated and posted on his blog, singaporedissident.blogspot.com.”

In his blog, Nair criticized the Singaporean justice system, Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and the PM’s father, inister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, and Judge Belinda Ang. Judge Ang had resided over a three-day hearing to determine defamation damages to be paid by opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, and his sister, Siok Chin, to the Lees.

In the course of the hearings, Chee — who has already been bankrupted by the Singapore courts over previous convictions of defamation also against the Lees — personally cross-examined the older Lee, accusing him of sacrificing Singaporeans’ liberty and human and civil rights in exchange for the city-state’s economic might. Judge Ang on numerous occasions ruled that many of Chee’s questions and comments were out of line or irrelevant to the proceedings.

In an email sent to the media and Singapore’s attorney-general and subsequently posted on his blog, Nair dismissed the hearing and the overall trial of Chee Soon Juan and Siok Chin as a farce. He said Ang was biased towards the Lees, writing that “Judge Belinda Ang
was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings”.

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He then dared Nair, Lee Kuan Yew, and the Singapore police to arrest him. Lawyer Chia Ti Lik, who is representing Nair, said his client was not sentenced and will be held in custody for seven days pending further investigations. Nair could be jailed for up to a year or face a maximum fine of S$5,000 ($3,671) if he is found guilty. (Seapa)

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