Photo of K Shanmugam from AFP

In a bid to squash criticisms, the Singapore government passed a new Contempt Bill and set maximum penalties higher than the historical highest in the past 51 years. The High Court or Court of Appeal will be able to impose a fine of up to S$100,000 and/or a jail term of up to three years for contempt. However, the highest penalty ever meted out for Contempt of Court was only a fine of S$25,000 against Wall Street Journal in 2008, and an 8-weeks jail for a British writer Alan Shadrake for his book.

The increased in powers by the new bill is seen as a political move to oppress Singaporeans further and deter them from criticising the court and government. As Singaporeans get more connected via the internet, criticisms over court judgment increased several folds online.

Earlier in March this year, Law Minister K Shanmugam issued a stern warning to Singaporeans that they may be charged for contempt of court if they kept criticising the Singapore police over a suicide case. Then in May, the Singapore government passed a new law that could allow them to make an infinite claim on costs on individuals who choose to sue the government.

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