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Singaporeans jailed for kangaroo court T-shirts

SINGAPORE, 27 Nov 2008: The Singapore High Court today sentenced three Singaporeans to seven to 15 days’ jail for wearing T-shirts bearing a picture of a kangaroo in a judge’s robes in the vicinity of the New Supreme Court Building last May.

Muhammad Shafi’ie Syahmi Sariman and Isrizal Mohamed Isa were jailed for seven days each and Tan Liang Joo John, 15 days, by Justice Judith Prakash.

She also ordered each of them to pay the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers S$5,000 in costs and disbursements.

The case against the trio for contempt of court was heard on 24 Nov.

The attorney-general had applied for contempt proceedings to be instituted against the three after they appeared in the T-shirts in the court, which was hearing the assessment of damages in respect of a defamation action brought by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leaders last May.

The AG’s Chambers took offence as it implied that the court was a kangaroo court.

Kangaroo judge
Kangaroo judge

Tan was also heard saying, “This is a kangaroo court” to Lee when the Minister Mentor walked past him outside Court No 4B at the New Supreme Court Building.

On 27 July 2008, an article entitled “Police question activists over kangaroo T-shirts” appeared on the SDP website.

The article reproduced a photograph of the three men wearing the same T-shirts and was meant to give wider publicity to their allegation that the court was a kangaroo court, the AG had said.

At the 24 Nov hearing, the attorney-general was represented by Deputy Solicitor-General Jeffrey Chan Wah Teck, principal senior state counsel Jennifer Marie and state counsel Gillian Koh Tan and Lee Jwee Nguan.

Tan and Isrizal appeared in person while Muhammad Shafi’ie Syahmi was represented by Chia Ti Lik.

After reviewing the evidence from both sides, Justice Prakash found that each of them was in contempt of court in the manner alleged.

In the case of Muhammad Shafi’ie Syahmi and Isrizal, Justice Prakash found that they were in contempt for wearing the T-shirts in the vicinity of the court and inside the courthouse.

In the case of Tan, the judge found him to be in contempt for distributing the T-shirt in the court building and wearing the offending T-shirt and for being involved in posting the photograph on the SDP website.

The three men also refused to apologise to the court or to withdraw their insinuation about the Singapore court when given the opportunity to do so by Justice Prakash. — Bernama


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