A 3 day court hearing will determine how much damage Dr Chee and his sister will have to pay PM Lee and MM Lee for defaming the latter duo. The defamation took place in their party newsletter just before the 6th May polls in 2006 (2 more years to go to next election). The Chees have long been infamous for throwing claims on Lees on how the latter were corrupt – without presenting anything substantial to back their claims.

In fact, Dr Chee had a chance to face-off with MM Lee back in 2004. However, Dr Chee had a no-show for the court hearing. Needless to say, the results were not in his favour. One can’t help but wonder if he’ll pull a second fast one. I’m trying to look at things from the perspective of Dr Chee, but I am having trouble doing so – not because I am taking sides, but I find it hard to fathom his thinking process. If Singapore irks him so much, why won’t he spend the rest of his life peacefully elsewhere – since he probably knows that he’ll get nothing out of going against the system here. I’m not entirely supportive of the things that is being implemented in Singapore, but I can’t see how going against the system can help make lives better for everyone else. For ordinary people like me who are so comfortable with equilibrium, I only have time to care about my next bowl of rice, my next shelter over my head (metaphorically speaking).

Perhaps… just perhaps, he feels that it’s a calling for him; and maybe Dr Chee might gain more supporters if he’s able to show just a slight bit of evidence to support him. Too much allegations will just end up being noise – and it doesn’t help that, inferring from his arguments, the Singapore government is not allowing him access into his much-needed evidence. He’s a smart guy, but brute force isn’t always the way to go.

I’ve got so much things to say, but an entry isn’t sufficient. I wish him all the best.

THE Prime Minister and Minister Mentor are expected to go on the stand in a High Court hearing that starts on Monday.

The three-day hearing is to assess the damages Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister and the SDP will have to pay for defaming Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

The two leaders are likely to be cross-examined by lawyer M. Ravi, who is representing the SDP, as well as Dr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin, who are representing themselves.

If that happens, it will mark the first time that any PAP leader has been cross-examined by a political opponent in open court.

The opposition party and the Chee siblings were found to have defamed PM Lee and MM Lee in articles in their SDP newsletter two years ago.

The case began in the run-up to the 2006 General Election.

About a week before the May 6 polls, PM Lee and MM Lee had sued Dr Chee and the party’s leadership for repeating remarks alleging that they were corrupt and had covered up wrongdoings at the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

The suit stemmed from articles in the SDP newsletter, The New Democrat. It centred on the NKF saga and drew parallels between how the charity and the Government were run.

Six SDP central executive committee members apologised subsequently. But two others, Dr Chee and his sister, did not, and contested the suit.

In June 2006, the High Court ruled that the SDP – which did not file a defence in the case – defamed PM Lee and MM Lee.

Three months later, in September 2006, the Chee siblings were found guilty of defaming the two political leaders.

The Lees are seeking aggravated damages, which are exceptional awards made by the courts where the plaintiffs have been wronged severely.

The last time MM Lee was on the stand in an open court hearing was in 2004, in a separate defamation case involving Dr Chee, who failed to show up for the hearing.

PM Lee was last on the stand in 1997, in a hearing to assess the damages opposition politician Tang Liang Hong had to pay for defaming 11 People’s Action Party leaders.

Over the next three days, Justice Belinda Ang will hear both sides present their case and decide on the damages to award.

The amount may not matter to the Chee siblings as they have already been declared bankrupt.

But if the SDP is unable to pay up, the 28-year-old party faces the prospect of being wound up.

However, before the hearing starts, the Chee siblings intend to ask Justice Ang to disqualify herself from the case because she gave the Lees a summary judgment in 2006 after the Chees had walked out of court.

Another matter is also pending. Lawyers for PM Lee and MM Lee have applied to strike out the affidavits of Dr Chee, his sister and former solicitor-general and opposition politician Francis Seow, on the grounds that they are scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process.

If their affidavits are struck out, the Chee siblings will not take the stand and be cross-examined by the Lees’ lawyers.

sueann@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 12th May 2008



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