SINGAPORE – The nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Li Shengwu, has hired a top British lawyer to advise him in his contempt of court case.
Queen’s Counsel David Pannick is one of the lawyers who won a landmark case this week against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament before the deadline to exit the European Union.
Mr Li, an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, said on Facebook on Wednesday (Sept 25): “I’m grateful for Lord Pannick’s guidance and help, even as he has been in the midst of winning a landmark constitutional case in the UK.”
He said that he has filed his defence affidavit and his legal team has taken advice from Mr Pannick in the past two years.
The contempt of court case is over a Facebook post Mr Li put up on July 15, 2017, in which he said “the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.
He made the Facebook post when he commented on a dispute between his father Lee Hsien Yang, his aunt Lee Wei Ling and his uncle PM Lee over the fate of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s home at 38 Oxley Road.
The Attorney-General (AG) said that the post was an “egregious and baseless attack” on the judiciary, and started contempt of court proceedings against Mr Li the following month, after he failed to comply with a request to remove the post.
Mr Li said the Facebook post was private and did not constitute contempt of court when read in context.
On Sept 27, 2017, the AG obtained leave from the High Court to serve contempt of court papers on Mr Li in the US. The papers were personally served on him on Oct 17 that year at Harvard University.
Mr Li has said in a media interview that he left Singapore because of concerns that he might be detained by the authorities in the contempt of court case.