Washington International Law Journal


Cameron Sim


Recent cases involving opposition politicians and foreign publications, in which allegations of corruption leveled against both the executive and the judiciary were found to be defamatory and in contempt of court, struck at the heart of Singapore’s ideological platform as a corruption-free meritocracy with an independent judiciary. This article examines the implications of these cases for the relationship between the courts, the government, and the rule of law in Singapore. It is argued that judicial normalization of the government’s politics of communitarian legalism has created a statist and procedural rule of law that encourages defamation laws to chill political opposition. The dual state construct in Singapore, under which commercial law remains depoliticized and readily enforceable, has been distorted, which creates uncertainty across all areas of Singapore’s common law and thereby undermines the government’s economic agenda.

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