AGC wants to take blogger to court for contempt

SINGAPORE - THE Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) would on Monday seek the High Court's permission to take legal action against blogger Alex Au Wai Pang for contempt of court.

If the judge rules that there is sufficient basis for the case to proceed, court papers will then be served on Mr Au, who will be entitled to a full hearing to decide if he has "scandalised the judiciary", as claimed by the AGC.

The blogger is alleged to have done so through two articles he wrote and published last month on his sociopolitical blog Yawning Bread, the AGC said on Friday.

The AGC's application, filed at the High Court on Nov 14, is over the blog posts "377 Wheels Come Off Supreme Court's Best-Laid Plans", published on Oct 5, and "Church Sacks Employee And Sues Government - On One Ground Right, On Another Ground Wrong", put up on Oct12.

The AGC claims that in the first post, the 61-year-old had accused the Supreme Court of "deliberately manipulating hearing dates" to allow the Chief Justice to influence a case to determine the constitutionality of Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men.

This year, two similar cases on Section 377A came before the courts.

In one case, which was first filed in 2010, the CJ "would have to recuse himself... since he was the Attorney-General at the time" to avoid a conflict of interest, wrote Mr Au.

Thus, the way out for the courts was to actually delay the judgment in this case. This was done so that it could then take into account how the CJ may rule in the second Section 377A case, Mr Au claimed.

In the Oct 12 post, Mr Au allegedly accused the judiciary of being incapable of making independent judgments.

This was over two cases filed by Mr Wee Kim San Lawrence Bernard, a homosexual man.

He lost his first case, in which he sued his former employer Robinsons for discrimination, after the High Court "erroneously decided" it, claimed Mr Au.

He suggested that this would lead to the High Court also ruling against Mr Wee in his subsequent application for a declaration that bias against homosexuals is unconstitutional.

This is not Mr Au's first run-in with the AGC for contempt of court. In July last year, he was let off with a warning after he suggested in a blog post that prominent plastic surgeon Woffles Wu had received special treatment before the Singapore courts.

This was after the surgeon was fined $1,000 for abetting an employee to take the rap for two speeding offences.

After the AGC said the post alleged that "our courts are biased towards those whom you describe as well-connected", he withdrew the article and published an online apology.

In his apology, Mr Au admitted that he had committed an act of contempt of court, and that he had "seriously misrepresented various facts". He wrote: "I will not in future put up any post to the same or similar effect."

The AGC on Monday said that Mr Au was already "given a chance" on that occasion.

Mr Au is not required to attend Tuesday's hearing.

The AGC added: "Pending the outcome of the leave application, it would not be appropriate to comment on the merits of the contempt application."

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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