Monday, July 4, 2022

Another lawyer targeted as Singapore’s contempt marathon continues

The Singapore attorney-general accuses Charles Yeo of criticising the republic's justice system on social media.

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Singapore’s attorney-general has turned against another lawyer in the city-state in a series of legal actions targeting those involved in the defence of Malaysian death row inmates, filing an application in the High Court for leave for an order of commital for contempt against Charles Yeo.

According to the court documents sighted by MalaysiaNow, the attorney-general alleges that Yeo had criticised the Singapore justice system in his Instagram posts.

The contempt proceeding was launched over his criticism of a court decision in favour of a senior lawyer who was accused of mishandling the wills of Singapore’s first prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew.

The lawyer, Kwa Kim Li, was accused by two of Lee’s children of failing to execute their father’s wills.

Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, both younger siblings of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also accused Kwa of breaching confidentiality by sending communication records to their elder brother.

The complaints were dismissed in March by Singapore’s top solicitors body the Law Society, a decision also held by the Court of Appeal.

Yeo is the latest in a series of what critics describe as the intimidation of lawyers who challenge the city-state’s stand on capital punishment.

Several executions were carried out in recent weeks despite international condemnation, renewing concerns that Singapore’s tough laws are focused on drug mules from poor families while the kingpins who hire them remain largely free.

Earlier this year, Yeo represented two intellectually disabled men convicted of drug trafficking, Singaporean Roslan Bakar and Malaysian Pausi Jefridin, in seeking to halt their execution.

In view of the applications in which Yeo was counsel, Singapore President Halimah Yacob granted the two men a respite, sparing them from the gallows.

Since then, Yeo has been slammed with an application for punitive costs by the attorney-general to the tune of S$35,000.

Fellow lawyers Violet Netto and M Ravi are also caught in the authorities’ cross hairs, with Violet under police investigation over accusations of practising without a valid certificate.

Ravi meanwhile faces seven separate professional disciplinary inquiries which could result in him being fined, suspended or struck off as a lawyer, in addition to three contempt proceedings as well as a number of police investigations.

Both Violet and Ravi had represented Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who was executed on April 27 despite an international outcry due to his mental disability.

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