The integrity and credibility of Singapore’s judiciary system is now in the spotlight again, after the Singapore High Court sided with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by claiming that the abuse of court process is “not a Singapore law”.
The Singapore judge did not say that there is no abuse by the Prime Minister to persecute his critics, but he said that there is no such law.
According to state media Straits Times, the High Court judge, Aedit Abdullah, claimed that “the abuse of court process” is not a Singapore law and that the High Court is “too low-level” to make the right judgement:
“An earlier judgment by a five-judge Court of Appeal, which ruled that the abuse of court process is not recognised in Singapore law. Mr Leong’s countersuit goes against binding authority of the Court of Appeal, from which it is not possible for a court at this level to depart.”
This landmark decision means anyone, especially the rich and powerful like Lee Hsien Loong, can freely abuse the court process so long they have the money.
The judge however also did not grant Lee Hsien Loong any claim to any compensation, saying that doing so would “not be conducive” for people to challenge existing laws:
“The award of indemnity costs for the counterclaim is not justified. Otherwise, any attempt to challenge the law would attract indemnity costs; this would not be conducive for legal development and innovation.”
The Singapore judge then starting praising Lee Hsien Loong for having a “substantial reputation” and claimed that he has been defamed:
“PM Lee has a substantial reputation as the country’s prime minister, and such reputation may be marred even by publication of allegedly defamatory material to a small number of persons…the threshold to strike out a claim is high, and PM Lee’s claim is not such a clearly unsustainable one as to make it a ‘plain and obvious’ case for striking out.”