NUS Law’s Distinguished Fellow Chan Sek Keong Shares Insights on Lingle case

The prosecution of Christopher Lingle and International Herald Tribune for contempt of court in 1994 caused a minor kerfuffle among the Western liberal media. To critics, foreign and local, of Singapore’s political system, the case was a symbol of repression of political dissent by an intolerant regime. To free speech proponents, it was an act of suppression of free speech by an intolerant regime. To the Government, it was a necessary act to prevent confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary from being undermined.

In a talk attended by over 50 people and held at the NUS Law campus on 21 November 2014, the then-Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong, who prosecuted Lingle shared invaluable insights into the case. In this talk, he revisited why he did what he had to do in order to bring the requisite evidence before the court. He also offered some comments on whether the law of contempt of court is still necessary or obsolete as a tool to preserve public confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore. The talk was chaired by Associate Professor David Tan, who had previously published articles on the offence of scandalising the judiciary.

About Mr Chan Sek Keong
Mr Chan Sek Keong is currently NUS Law’s first Distinguished Fellow. He was among the first batch of graduates from the University of Malaya in 1961, and practiced as a lawyer in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore before being appointed the first Judicial Commissioner of Singapore in July 1986. Two years later, he became a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore.

In 1992, he was appointed the Attorney-General of Singapore, a position he relinquished in 2006 when he was sworn in as the third Chief Justice of Singapore. He retired in 2012, after having spent 26 years in legal service.