Learn More about Freedom of Speech

One might not always associate Singapore with the freedom of expression, and it might come as a surprise that an elective subject like Freedom of Speech: Criticial & Comparative Perspectives is offered at NUS Law, pioneered and taught by Assoc Prof David Tan.

Through examining the jurisprudence in four common law Western liberal democracies of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, this course compares how the freedom of speech is construed in these jurisdictions. By confronting, for example, the complexities of the US First Amendment, the interplay between Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Australian implied constitutional guarantee, one is exposed to different theoretical, practical and often controversial approaches in the protection of free speech.

Cases covered span the spectrum from flag burning to duck shooting, from contemporary art that appropriates the image of the Barbie Doll to regulation of animal crush videos, from the media reporting of suspected police corruption to protecting the privacy of a fashion supermodel.

The Freedom of Speech seminar, taught by Dr. David Tan, focused on comparing and critically analysing different jurisdictions’ approaches to free speech, without any pre-judgment as to what the ‘correct’ approach is. Throughout this course, each of us (including LL.M. and exchange students from various countries) were inspired to develop our own opinion on the most suitable free speech model for our own society. The assigned readings often comprised provocative cases which often generated much intense debate in class discussions. And the most important skill I took away from this class was how to write a good case commentary.

Matthew Seet, LL.B. ‘12, Winner of the NUS Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize (Individual Category) 2011/2012

The National University of Singapore is the only law school in Singapore to offer a course on the freedom of speech. By providing a firm foundation in the theories underpinning this area of law and analysing the gamut of pressing and nascent challenges to free speech through a comparative perspective, the course has equipped us with the requisite skills and knowledge to engage in meaningful dialogues on national and transnational issues concerning this fundamental freedom. Particularly in this day and age where ‘freedoms’ and ‘rights’ are ideals sometimes bandied about hastily, it is incumbent upon us, as lawyers and citizens, to responsibly delineate the contours of this right that deeply affects us all.”

Gavin Foo, LL.B ‘12

(From left to right: Low Chun Yee, Lim Jiahui, Matthew Seet, and Gavin Foo)

To learn more about this course, and other law elective subjects offered, click here.