Woman jailed for threatening, insulting Family Court judge

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Zhang Honghong, 37, pleaded guilty to one charge of using threatening communication towards a public servant. (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Unhappy over her divorce proceedings at the Family Justice Courts, a 37-year-old woman insulted and threatened a district judge.

Zhang Honghong, alias Lisa Chang, a permanent resident from China, called the judge a b**** and threatened to hit her in court documents which she filed.

The perpetrator was given a conditional stern warning, but went on to insult the judge again in court documents she filed less than a year later, accusing the latter of being “very good in acting dumb” and acting “in cahoots” with her ex-husband, among other things.

At the State Courts on Friday (27 December), Zhang was jailed for three weeks by another district judge.

She pleaded guilty to one charge of using threatening communications towards a public servant under the Protection from Harassment Act.

Another count of using insulting communications towards a public servant was considered in sentencing.

Threatened to smash court, hit judge

At the time of the offences, Zhang was undergoing divorce proceedings with her ex-husband Lim Teck Leng, 42, a Singaporean. The matter was presided over by a different district judge and not the victim.

The victim then took over the matter midway and presided over the ancillary hearing, making final orders on matters pertaining to the division of matrimonial assets, maintenance and matters relating to their two children on 25 August 2017.

In November 2017, Zhang filed four applications to the court, mainly requesting to vary the judge’s orders. The judge then held a case conference on 11 December and fixed another case conference for 22 December.

“At the time, the accused was frustrated with her ex-husband for not paying maintenance, and felt angry as she felt the Family Courts were not helping her enough,” said Deputy Public Prosector David Koh.

On 15 December, at about 2.50pm, Zhang filed a summons application online, to which she attached an affidavit. In the summons application, she made various complaints, including that “the final judgment is already more than one year application period (sic)” and that Lim had not paid for their children’s school fees.

She also stated in her application, “For my divorce case, if the family court and (the victim) do not resolve for me in the 22 December 9.30am hearing, I will smash the family court and hit (the victim). B****, doing these bad things under the pretext of doing good things!”

Zhang further wrote, “If anybody in the family court dares to touch me, I will die in the family court”. She also said in the electronic court document that she had informed the Chinese embassy to “help retrieve my dead body” and that “we will settle all new and old scores together”.

She added, “I am not joking, I am very serious and informing everybody in the form of summon!”

Meanwhile, Zhang’s supporting affidavit was peppered with vulgarities. In that court document, she made further complaints about Lim, whom she said was a gambler, and alleged that “the family court favoured and covered (Lim’s) gambling”.

Reoffended despite warning

The district judge informed Principal District Judge of the Family Justice Courts Muhammad Hidhir Abdul Majid of Zhang’s threats. In turn, he directed a senior assistant director of the court to file a police report.

After police investigations were completed, Zhang was given a conditional stern warning on 18 May last year, with the concurrence of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. As a condition of the warning, she cannot commit any crime for one year from the date of the warning, failing which she could be prosecuted for both the new crime as well as the one for which she received the warning.

However, on 5 June and 8 June last year, Zhang continued to send lengthy emails to various parties, including the Family Justice Courts’ registry, in which she repeated her complaints about the court and the victim.

Between 28 November and 4 December last year, she filed three summons applications to seek enforcement to court orders including on maintenance. The application was accepted on 4 December. In each of the applications, Zhang included a 45-page affidavit in which she made numerous allegations against the court and the district judge, claiming that the latter was acting in cahoots with her ex-husband.

Zhang wrote that the victim “protected/helped (Lim) and the court to avoid responsibilities”. She also said, “The family court judge is very good in acting dumb, when require to resolve problems the judge runs faster than a rabbit, afraid to bear responsibilities.”

The perpetrator added, “Seeing the family court judge and the defendant act in cahoots faces really disgust me (sic)”. She further wrote, “The family court judge during the case trial head was dizzy and not clear”.

As a result of the affidavit, a senior assistant director in charge of records management and security of the Family Justice Courts made a police report. Zhang was eventually brought to the State Courts to face her two charges on 27 September.

The court was told that Lim has separately also been charged under the Protection from Harassment Act, although the details of his single count were not elaborated.

In asking for the three-week jail sentence that was meted out by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim, DPP Koh said Zhang’s offending statements in her affidavits “were in contempt of court and were designed to vilify the judge and impugn her professional integrity. Statements like this cannot be tolerated if we are to uphold the reputation and independence of our courts in Singapore,” he added.

Noting that affidavits must be sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner for Oaths, the prosecutor pointed out that Zhang’s conduct was an abuse of court process and that “there was some premeditation and considered decision on her part - this was not a case of words uttered in the heat of a moment”.

The maximum punishment for using threatening communications towards a public servant in the execution of his or her duty is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.

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