Li Shengwu files defence in contempt of court case, engages top UK lawyer

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
Li Shengwu, eldest son of Lee Hsien Yang and grandson of Lee Kuan Yew. PHOTO: Screenshot from Al Jazeera English YouTube channel.
Li Shengwu. (PHOTO: Screenshot from Al Jazeera English/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has filed his defence affidavit and engaged a top British lawyer to advise in a contempt of court case against him.

“Friends often ask me if the Singapore government is still prosecuting me after all this time. The answer is yes. I just filed my defence affidavit,” wrote Li, 34, in a Facebook post on Wednesday (25 September).

“Over the past two years, my legal team has taken advice from David Pannick, a leading expert,” he added.

“I’m grateful for Lord Pannick’s guidance and help, even as he has been in the midst of winning a landmark constitutional case in the UK.”

Pannick, who is a Queen’s Counsel, acted for an anti-Brexit campaigner and won a landmark case on Tuesday to overturn the British government’s suspension of parliament ahead of a 31 October deadline for the UK to leave the European Union.

Li, an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, had published a private Facebook post on 15 July 2017 stating that “the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.

In a letter sent six days after the post, Senior State Counsel Francis Ng called it “an egregious and baseless attack” on the Singapore legal system and asked Li to sign a declaration that he had made false allegations, was in contempt of the judiciary, and to apologise unreservedly.

Li later explained that his post was intended as a criticism of the Singapore government’s effect on press freedom and that the AGC “chose to escalate the dispute”.

Later in the same month, the AGC applied for – and was subsequently granted – permission in the High Court to commence proceedings against Li for contempt of court.

If found guilty, Li could face a fine up to $100,000 or a jail term of up to three years, or both. He is the eldest son of Lee Hsien Yang and also the nephew of Lee Wei Ling, Hsien Yang’s older sister.

Hsien Yang and Wei Ling are embroiled in a long-running family feud against their older brother PM Lee over the fate of their old family home at 38 Oxley Road.

Related stories:

Li Shengwu's appeal against serving of court papers in contempt case dismissed

‘Inherent difficulties’ in AGC’s case against Li Shengwu: Chief Justice

Li Shengwu challenges order that let AGC serve papers on him in the US