The Freedom of Speech and Defamation
15 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2007
The judgment of the Court of Appeal in what appears to be the latest in a series of significant decisions concerning the former opposition leader Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam contains pronouncements which have important but disturbing implications for the interpretation and development of the freedom of speech in Singapore and, more generally, for the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore. This note does not hope to deal directly with the law of defamation but with how that branch of tort law is and should be affected by the constitutional entrenchment of the freedom of speech in Singapore. The High Court judgment in this litigation took the position that the constitutional right of free speech was consistent with the common law rules of defamation. More specifically, the implication to be drawn from that first instance judgment seems to be that the common law defences of justification and fair comment sufficiently guarantee the freedom of speech concerning the conduct of public officials in Singapore.
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