British author Shadrake convicted of contempt in Singapore after his book “Once a Jolly Hangman – Singapore Justice in the Dock” speaks out about the government.

Alan Shadrake, Singapore 3 Nov 2010

Shadrake has written a book that speaks out against corruption and incompetence of the Singapore government he fell into hot water with his book launch within the country.

A court in Singapore has found the author Alan Shadrake “guilty of insulting the Singapore Judiciary”. In relation to his book discussing the death penalty in the country. the 75 year old author will be sentenced for contempt next week and at the same time he still faces charges on “criminal defamation” for which the police are still investigating and withholding his UK passport.In his book, "Once a Jolly Hangman – Singapore Justice in the Dock", he criticised how the death penalty is used, alleging a lack of impartiality.

On receiving his personal conviction though he did say he felt he had a fair trial. Shadrake is based in Malaysia and was picked up by authorities when he arrived in July to launch his book.


"This is a case about someone who says among other things the judges in Singapore are not impartial… (and are) influenced by political and economic situations and biased against the weak and the poor," Justice Quentin Loh said.

The Straits Times reported that Justice Loh found Shadrake had included half-truths and falsehoods in his book.

The judge noted that 6,000 copies of the book have been sold so far, the newspaper reported.

If left unchecked, this would result in readers losing confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore, Justice Loh said.

The book contains documented interviews with lawyers, former prison officers, human rights activist’s as well as Darshan Singh who was the chief executioner at Singapore’s Changi Prison.

Darshan Singh claims during his time he executed more than 1,000 people between 1959 and 2006.

It appears the Singapore government is taking a hard line on the book as it highlights the use of the capital punishment but also the manipulation to control freedom of speech where dissent is very rare. Human rights groups have said that the Singaporean government are quick to look to the courts to silence their critics.

"I think I’ve been given a fair hearing," Shadrake told the media after the verdict was issued.

At the start of his trial, he had told the BBC he would never apologise: "I will not grovel to them, I will carry on this fight."