SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Singapore has sentenced a former citizen to three months in jail for insulting a high court judge in his online journal, a local newspaper said on Thursday.
Gopalan Nair, a lawyer who became a U.S. citizen in 2005 after an earlier failed bid to run for Singapore’s parliament, had “scandalised...the judiciary and the administration of justice in Singapore”, The Straits Times quoted the presiding judge as saying.
On his blog (here) Nair accused a judge of "prostituting herself...by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders", the Straits Times quoted the sentencing judge as saying.
Lee Kuan Yew is the first prime minister of modern Singapore and held the post for 31 years before resigning in 1990. He is also the father of current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who has ruled since 2004.
Nair, a long-time opponent of the government, said in his defence that his blog aimed to raise political awareness in Singapore and that while his words were perhaps a bit strong, he could not show remorse because they were true.
Critics of the government often accuse the country’s rulers of using the courts and punitive libel damages to silence opposition.
Nair’s sentence comes after Singapore’s attorney general said last week it was taking contempt of court proceedings against the publisher of the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal and two of its editors, saying their editorials “impugn the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore judiciary”. [ID:nN11520919]
Speech and expression, especially those which touch on politics, race and religion, are tightly regulated in Singapore. The government says this is needed to maintain the country’s social and political stability. (Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by David Fox)
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