Tag Archives: politics and law

Criminalising Critique of the Singapore Judiciary

by Assoc. Prof. TEY Tsun Hang


Despite its small size, Singapore occupies a position of special significance in the debate on the relationship between economic development and political, social and legal institutions. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore legitimises its authoritarian political regime – and insulates it from substantive scrutiny – via a three-pronged strategy: first, through its tightly controlled media and communication channels; secondly, by delivering an admirable economic performance and, creating and maintaining an awe-inspiring standard of living; and thirdly – and most importantly – through its legal institutions. However, there are profound logical flaws and stark absences of consistency in the judgments that help secure this legal state of affairs. This article confines its analysis to the criminal offence of scandalising the judiciary, in the context of critical reporting of the judgments in political defamation cases in Singapore.



Singapore’s jurisprudence of political defamation and its triple-whammy impact on political speech

by Assoc. Prof. TEY Tsun Hang

Singapore’s governing People’s Action Party (PAP) leadership has always been sensitive towards political criticism. Singapore has a highly sophisticated legal framework that imposes close and strict regulation on the local press and media system. The foreign media is also subject to considerable political control. Informal “out-of-bounds (OB) markers” had been mentioned and reported in the local press, in an attempt to give some clarity to the boundary of what the Singapore political leadership considered to be legitimate political criticism.

There have been consistent criticisms that the frequent use of defamation actions by the Singapore political leadership against opposition leaders and newspapers has the effect of silencing political dissent from within or without. It has been argued that this trend of political defamation actions is a violation of the fundamental constitutional right to freely hold and peacefully express one’s political opinions, and that it amounts to severe restrictions on freedom of expression that cannot be justified under international standards, seriously compromising the fundamental right to make political expression freely in public without fear of reprisal.