Judge spells out test for what constitutes contempt

Dear Justice Loh,

I refer to the 13 Nov 2010 Straits Times report of your explanation of the real risk test as being the likelihood of undermining public confidence in the justice system. You gave the example of a person ranting at a dinner party but is being ignored as not posing a real risk to public confidence in justice. The best way to gauge public confidence is to do a survey. We can engage a professional survey company to randomly ask people the following questions:

1. Have you read Mr Alan Shadrake’s book “Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice In The Dock”?

2. Did the book cause you to lose confidence in Singapore’s justice system?

It would be difficult to find even 1% of Singaporeans who would have read the book given that our best selling non-fiction book can only sell about 30,000 copies at most. It would be even more difficult for one such book to have shaken one’s fundamental belief in our justice system. A book that can shake our confidence in our justice system ought to be selling one million copies at least.

Finally, even as we trust our justice system today, there is no guarantee that it will not fail us in the future no matter how remote that possibility is. If that day ever comes, we would need the public to know the truth even if it means undermining its confidence in a justice system that no longer deserves our confidence.

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