Nov 27, 2008
T-shirt trio jailed
THREE men who wore T-shirts depicting a kangaroo dressed in judge's robes and found to be in contempt of court were sentenced on Thursday.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) assistant secretary-general John Tan Liang Joo, 47, was jailed for 15 days, while the other two - full-time national serviceman Muhammad Shafi'ie Syahmi Sariman, 20, and activist Isrizal Mohamed Isa, 33 - were sentenced to seven days jail each.
All three also have to pay the Attorney-General costs of $5,000.
The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) initiated contempt of court proceedings against the trio for having 'scandalised the Singapore Judiciary by publicly wearing identical white T-shirts, imprinted with a palm-sized picture of a kangaroo dressed in a judge's gown, within and in the vicinity of the New Supreme Court Building'.
They wore the T-shirts between May 26 and May 28 at the Supreme Court.
This was when they attended hearings before Justice Belinda Ang to assess defamation damages that the SDP, its leader Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin had to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
At Monday's hearing, Deputy Solicitor-General Jeffrey Chan sought stiff jail terms and cited two reasons.
Firstly, the worst insult that someone can level against the judicial system is to call it a kangaroo court, he said.
The term is generally understood to mean a court that is characterised by unauthorised or irregular procedures, or sham and unfair legal proceedings.
Secondly, the men's refusal to apologise reaffirmed their contempt of court.
Mr Chan urged Justice Prakash to pass a sentence that would denounce such a show of contempt and deter others from acting in the same way .
The men argued separately that they had no intention of publicising their actions, which they said were merely a form of self-expression