Supporters of blogger Alex Au issue statement

Supporters of blogger Alex Au issue statement

Nearly 170 academics, civil activists and artists have got behind a statement supporting socio-political blogger Alex Au Wai Pang, who is facing contempt of court action.

His supporters include president of human rights group Maruah Braema Mathi, playwright Alfian Sa'at and former Singapore Democratic Party member Vincent Wijeysingha.

In the statement posted online Friday, they said they were "deeply concerned" that the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) was given permission by the High Court to take legal action against Mr Au after alleging that he had "scandalised the judiciary" in a post he made on his blog Yawning Bread last month. "The right of free expression is enshrined in... our Constitution... The AGC's action reflects an overzealous desire to police public opinion."

On Wednesday, the High Court gave the AGC leave to haul up Mr Au for contempt over his post on Oct 5. Entitled "377 Wheels Come Off Supreme Court's Best-Laid Plans", he allegedly accused the Supreme Court of deliberately manipulating hearing dates to let Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon hear an appeal on the constitutionality of Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men.

The AGC now has about 10 days to apply for an order of committal - the next step for instituting action for contempt of court.

It did not respond last night to queries on the statement backing Mr Au, who is represented by lawyers Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi.

His supporters said that if the 61-year-old blogger had erred, his claims should be rebutted in public. "We agree it is important to uphold public confidence in the judiciary. However, this cannot mean that our judges should not be subject to scrutiny," the statement said.

"The AGC's action, rather than enhancing confidence in the judiciary, might weaken public confidence. It also implies that the public is not allowed to form opinions on judicial processes."

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