Judgment on Jolovan Wham’s contempt of court case reserved

Contempt of Court case

1. Introduction

On 9 October 2018, Mr Jolovan Wham was convicted for the offence of contempt of court by scandalising the court under section 3(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016 (No. 19 of 2016).

Section 3(1)(a) provides

Contempt by scandalising court, interfering with administration of justice, etc.

3.—(1) Any person who —
(a) scandalises the court by intentionally publishing any matter or doing any act that —
(i) imputes improper motives to or impugns the integrity, propriety or impartiality of any court; and
(ii) poses a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined;

2. Background

Mr Jolovan Wham published a Facebook post alleging that Malaysia’s judges were more independent than Singapore’s when it comes to political implications.

This led the Attorney-General’s Chambers (“AGC”) to initiating a contempt of court against Mr Jolovan Wham.

A politician from Singapore Democratic Party, Mr John Tan, said on Facebook that the AGC’s actions confirmed the truth of Mr Jolovan Wham’s Facebook post.

3. Legal arguments made in March 2019

In the High Court on Wednesday, 20 March 2019, we made arguments on the appropriate sentences that should be meted out to Mr Jolovan Wham and Mr John Tan, who had each published certain posts on their respective Facebook pages in 2018 that the High Court later ruled to have been in contempt of court.

For Mr Jolovan Wham, the prosecution sought a fine of between S$10,000 to S$15,000 and in default, imprisonment for two to three weeks. For Mr John Tan, the prosecution sought an imprisonment term of “at least 15 days”.

These are relatively novel cases as the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016 only took effect as of 1 October 2018.

Judgment has been reserved and will be delivered at a later date.