Singapore drops sedition charges against political cartoonist Leslie Chew

One of political cartoonist Leslie Chew's most recent comics, published on his Facebook page "Demon-cratic Singapore". (Picture from Demon-cratic Facebook)

Singapore’s state prosecutor has decided not to pursue sedition charges against political cartoonist Leslie Chew.
 
It will, however, still be proceeding with four contempt of court charges for four comics Chew published between 2011 and last year, the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ said in a statement on Monday.
 
Chew, who is behind the "Demon-Cratic Singapore" Facebook page that houses a wide range of politically-nuanced comics, was arrested in April for police investigations into possible offences under Singapore's Sedition Act, which outlaws acts "with a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different races or classes" among its people.
 
The police probe centred on two comics Chew, whose real name is Chew Peng Ee, published on his comic Facebook page last December and in late March this year.

In relation to one of the comics, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) offered to withdraw action in December last year if he took it down and apologised for it. Chew subsequently refused, however, saying all of his works were fictional and in no way referring to real people or events.

Following the decision not to pursue sedition charges, Chew’s police bail will be allowed to lapse and his passport, which was surrendered as a condition of bail, will be returned to him, the AGC said.

Chew's lawyers declined comment when contacted for a response.
 
Last week, the state prosecutor said it was taking action against Chew for four comics he published on "Demon-cratic Singapore" that appeared to question the fairness of Singapore's judiciary.

Chew's first hearing in the High Court on the matter has been fixed for 12 August. For these, he will be defended by Choo Zheng Xi of Peter Low LLC and human rights lawyer M Ravi.

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