AGC drops contempt of court proceedings against cartoonist

Published: 4:02 AM, August 7, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 8, 2013

SINGAPORE — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) yesterday said it would not go ahead with contempt of court proceedings against cartoonist Leslie Chew Peng Ee after he took down the four offending comics and apologised publicly for scandalising the judiciary.

In a statement issued through his lawyers and also posted on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore, Mr Chew, 37, said he accepted that the four comics posted between July 20, 2011 and June 16, 2012, “scandalised the judiciary”.

He said: “I also accept that (the) comic strips had misrepresented to the public that the Singapore judiciary administers differential treatment to individuals based on their nationality, social status and political affiliation, and that there have been specific criminal cases in which decisions were made by the Singapore judiciary on the basis of the above factors rather than on the merits.”

Mr Chew added: “I unreservedly apologise for committing contempt of court and have taken down the comic strips and accompanying comments.”

He also made an undertaking not to “put up any post or comic strip, or do any other act that amounts to contempt of court” in the future.

The AGC said the decision not to pursue the contempt proceedings, which commenced on July 23, was made following a request initiated by Mr Chew’s lawyers.

“In light of that apology and undertaking, as well as (the) fact that the offending comic strips have been taken down, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has determined that it is not necessary to continue the contempt proceedings,” it added.

Last week, Mr Chew’s police bail was allowed to lapse and his passport was returned to him after the AGC announced that he will not face further action following the completion of a police investigation into his alleged offences under the Sedition Act.

He had been arrested on April 19 after a complaint was lodged over the four racially-insensitive comics which had been circulated online. He was released on bail two days later.

The AGC yesterday reminded the public that it will take “firm action” to protect the administration of justice in Singapore, and uphold the integrity of the judiciary. “Where appropriate, such action will include the commencement of proceedings for contempt,” it said.

When contacted, lawyer Choo Zheng Xi said his client is “pleased with the outcome” and “believes that it is the best possible for all parties involved”.

Mr Choo added: “It was never Leslie’s intention to scandalise the judiciary. He draws to make people laugh. He recognises that he’s made a mistake and is keen to move on after this.”