SINGAPORE – The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Saturday (July 9) that Malaysian lawyer Zaid Abd Malek had been served a 24-month conditional warning for contempt of court over his statements about Malaysian drug traffickers in an article.
The article, which appeared in the Malay Mail on February 14, 2020, had referred to statements made by Mr Zaid about the dismissal of lawsuits by the Singapore High Court filed by two convicted Malaysian drug traffickers, Gobi Avedian and Datchinamurthy Kataiah, over the alleged execution methods practised by prison authorities.
Gobi Avedian was sentenced to 15 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the cane in October 2020, while Datchinamurthy Kataiah’s execution is being stayed because of a pending civil claim.
Mr Zaid, who made the comments in his capacity as the director of non-governmental organisation, Lawyers for Liberty, had also suggested that the Singapore courts had been unfair and ignored due process by rushing the hearing, and that the courts were “bent on dismissing the suits and proceeding to execution”.
“These statements were published online and accessed by members of the public in Singapore,” the SPF said in a statement.
The police’s response came two days after Mr Zaid wrote in a Facebook post about how he had been detained and interrogated by the police when he arrived in Singapore on July 4 (Monday).
Mr Zaid said he made the trip to assist and provide legal advice to the family of Malaysian Kalwant Singh, who was executed at Changi Prison on Thursday (July 7) after being convicted of drug trafficking.
Mr Zaid said when he arrived at Seletar Airport, he was asked to wait by an immigration officer. He wrote that he was not allowed to leave and was made to wait for four hours without any explanation.
He was later taken to a room and served a notice ordering him to be present at the Police Cantonment Complex on Wednesday (July 6) to be investigated for a possible contempt of court offence, and was warned not to leave the country.
At the police HQ at Cantonment on Wednesday, Mr Zaid said he was interrogated for two and a half hours and was told to return later that night.
That night, he said he was told that he had committed the offence of contempt of court, and given two conditional warnings – one directed to him and the other directed to Lawyers for Liberty.
In his Facebook post, Mr Zaid said his detention and interrogation were “acts of calculated intimidation and harassment by the Singapore authorities” because of his work and his speaking out “against the injustices involving Malaysian prisoners in Singapore’s death penalty regime”.
He also said the police probe had obstructed and hampered him in assisting Mr Singh’s family and that he had told the police about his purpose in Singapore.
In its statement on Saturday, the SPF said Mr Zaid was not in Singapore when an order was issued by the Attorney-General’s Chambers on March 17, 2020, authorising the police to investigate him for alleged contempt of court.
When he arrived in Singapore on Monday, two officers went to the airport to serve an order requiring his attendance for investigations.