Singapore PM's Nephew Li Shengwu Found Guilty of Contempt of Court, Fined

Li Shengwu, who lives and works in the US, has been found guilty of contempt of court and fined S$15,000.

Li Shengwu, the nephew of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has been found guilty of contempt of court and fined S$15,000 ($10,884) by Singapore's top court. The court also ruled that in case he fails to pay the fine, Li will have to serve a week's jail in default.

Justice Kannan Ramesh also ordered Li to pay S$8,500 for costs towards the proceedings and additional S$8,070 for disbursements such as filing fees, photocopying charges, service of documents on him in the US and database fees.

Li Shengwu
Li Shengwu Li Shengwu/ Facebook

What Was the Case?

Currently staying in the United States, Li, a Singapore citizen, is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University. The case pertains to a Facebook post made by Li in 2017. The post was made amid the ongoing feud between the children of the island's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, including the current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, and Li's father, Lee Hsien Yang, reported Reuters.

While sharing a link of the New York Times editorial titled 'Censored In Singapore', Li had captioned the post; "Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system."

"The Attorney-General had sought an order of committal for common-law contempt of court, under the inherent jurisdiction of the court, against Mr Li over a post on his Facebook page," Justice Ramesh was quoted by CNA.

Terming the post scandalous, the Attorney-General's representatives had stated that it created a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore, reported the outlet. The Attorney-General mentioned three points insisting that Li had shown contempt of court through his post. It included Li's intention to publish the post, that the post posed a real risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice and that the post did not constitute fair criticism.

Li Disagrees with the Judgment

Despite being notified of the hearing, Li didn't show up in the court. Soon after he was convicted by the top court, Li, in a post made on Facebook, said that he disagrees with the judgment.

Posting an image of his Grandfather's memoir titled 'From Third World To First- The Singapore Story 1965-2000', Li wrote: "Apparently the court has rendered judgement on my case today, and fined me $15,000 for a comment made to my friends on Facebook. I disagree with the judgement, and worry that it will reinforce the PAP's tendency to suppress ordinary political speech. In response to three words in a private Facebook post, the government has wasted three years of civil servants' time."