Two hours after launching an attack on a Bill outlining contempt of court laws, Dr Lee Wei Ling apologised publicly, saying she had been wrong in her assumptions.
In a post on her Facebook page earlier Sunday afternoon (Aug 14), Dr Lee, who is the sister of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, criticised the Bill, which makes contempt of court a criminal offence.
Under the Bill, disobeying court orders, publishing material that interferes with on-going proceedings, and making allegations of bias against judges constitute contempt of court.
Those who are found guilty of contempt at the High Court or Court of Appeal may be fined up to S$100,000 or jailed up to three years, or both. For other courts, the penalty may be up to a S$20,000 fine or imprisonment up to 12 months, or both - which Dr Lee remarked were "very serious penalties for someone who may just want to speak out against an unfair judge and/or an unfair government".
In her Facebook post, Dr Lee also mentioned a letter she had written to the press in 2008 about what she thought was an unfair sentence for former CK Tang head Tang Wee Sung, who was jailed a day after he had tried to buy a kidney illegally.
She said that her letter had been worded with the help of Law Minister K Shanmugam, who was at the time a top lawyer at Allen and Gledhill.
However, wrote Dr Lee, the new Bill signalled that Mr Shanmugam “now wants to demolish a tiny trail leading to some degree of justice for (any person) whom the government considers a nuisance".
Two hours after making the first post however, Dr Lee followed up with a second one to say that she has spoken with Mr Shanmugam since then, and that he has clarified that what she wrote in 2008 would still be allowed under the new Bill.
"Thus I was wrong in my assumptions," wrote Dr Lee. "Everyone is entitled to criticise judgements, policies, as I did in the Tang Wee Sung matter.
"I am relieved by the clarification given by Mr Shanmugam, and I apologise for any embarrassment I may have caused to Mr Shanmugam."
In a subsequent third post on the matter, Dr Lee said that she only retracted "the part related to the comment on Mr Tang Wee Sung", and not her entire initial post.
She reiterated: "Much of the proposed Bill is ambiguous to a person not trained in legal matters. As per my current understanding, I stand by the rest of the statements I posted. The Bill which will be passed in Parliament tomorrow gives the government the right to comment whilst denying that to people. This is inconsistent with equality before the law and is an attempt to muzzle public opinion."