Alex Au is in hot soup. AGC let him off once, but will not forgive his second ‘Oops, I did it again’ moment.
So-called ‘civil society’ issued a statement urging AGC to rebut his allegations publicly instead of prosecuting him. AGC shot back by saying a public trial is the way AGC will rebut him. Of course, what AGC didn’t say is that it’s a lose-lose situation for Alex. If he wins, he still has to pay his own legal fees. If he loses, he will still have to pay costs and most likely pay fines too. A custodial sentence is unlikely given the man’s age.
I sure hope Alex has got good solid evidence to back his claims. Preferably in the form of emails (a la wikileaks) or taped conversations. Else I don’t see how Alex can successfully defend himself.
Civil society guys say that the offence of scandalising the judiciary was repealed in the UK and has not been used for over 50 years. They called on AGC to do the same, ie not prosecute Alex but instead engage him in public debate over his allegations.
I don’t think they get it. And in this case, I think AGC is right.
Why should AGC be made to engage in public debate over allegations by all and sundry? Do you think they are so free to issue press release after press release, in response to blog post after blog post?
Natural justice requires that the burden of proof be on the accuser, but if any blogger can make unsubstantiated allegations and compel AGC to prove its innocence, that would turn the whole system of justice upside down!
So you see where this is going, and why the Singapore govt will not go there.
If you make any allegations, you’d better have rock solid proof before you publish such allegations. That’s the first thing any reporter is taught, that scoops must be reliable and must be confirmed, preferably by more than one source, and ideally with substantive evidence, such as emails, recordings, photos or documents.
Editors will refuse to publish controversial stories if they cannot confirm, even in countries like the US, where libel is not a crime. It’s not because they are afraid of lawsuits, it’s because they don’t want to look stupid if they get it wrong. Especially the serious newspapers, like the Washington Post, they don’t publish anything they don’t believe they can substantiate.
Hence, I hope Alex has got good sources and material evidence to substantiate his allegations.