Singapore Democratic Party Chief Dr Chee Soon Juan had was to have cross-examined PM Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee Kuan Yew in court today for assessment of damages, according to the Lees, for "the gravest defamation that has ever been considered in a Singapore court". Mr Singh, the lawyer acting for the Lees, called Dr Chee a scaredy-general while MM Lee called him a political juvenile and near-psychopath.

This is possible because Dr Chee was reportedly not able to conduct a proper cross-examination in court and declaring the entire process and being hideous. In addition, he added that "(the Lees) have chopped off their legs, lopped off their arms, and they expect them to continue with the assessment of damages?". Other questions that were posed by Dr Chee was deemed as irrelevant by the judge.

The hearing continues at 2.30pm today, with each side having an hour-and-a-half each to make its closing statement.

THE open-court hearing into assessment of damages in what lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew called the ‘gravest defamation that has ever been considered in a Singapore court’ finally began yesterday afternoon.

However, even though PM Lee arrived at Court 4B at 2.30pm all ready to take the stand, it was not till 3.20pm that his cross-examination by the defendants began.

As in closed-door hearings two weeks ago and last week, there continued to be delays, distractions and disruptions aplenty.

The defendants – the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), represented by lawyer M. Ravi, its chief Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin who represented themselves – made more last-minute applications, including for an adjournment of the entire hearing by a few months.

In the morning, lawyers for the Lees, led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier, and the defendants argued before Justice Belinda Ang behind closed doors over striking out of the affidavits of the Chee siblings and their witness, former solicitor-general Francis Seow, which Mr Singh argued were irrelevant and scandalous.

Justice Ang, who began hearing this issue last Thursday and Friday, agreed to Mr Singh’s application yesterday morning.

Her decision prompted the Chees to seek an adjournment of the damages hearing to give them time to prepare.

But Justice Ang did not allow further delays, and ordered that the damages hearing start at 2.30pm.

The Chees can still appeal at a later date, and if they succeed, there will be a retrial.

Still, the hearing did not start on time as the Chee siblings were late by 15 minutes.

Instead of beginning his cross-examination of PM Lee when he arrived, Dr Chee stood to ‘address the Court’.

Declaring the ‘entire process quite hideous’, he alleged that his case had been crippled from the start. ‘You have chopped off our legs, lopped off our arms, and you expect us to continue with the assessment of damages?’

Mr Singh countered that Dr Chee was simply afraid to cross-examine the Lees.

Pointing to PM Lee, Mr Singh added: ‘He sees my client in court, he has panicked. The scaredy-general, sorry, the secretary-general, of the SDP, should stand up and be counted. He has on his website been saying he wants to cross-examine Mr Lee.’

Later in the afternoon, more interruptions followed with Mr Ravi and Ms Chee also weighing in to apply for adjournments. They failed.

When PM Lee finally took the stand, he was cross-examined by Mr Ravi, followed by Dr Chee who did not complete his questioning yesterday.

And while the cross-examination was civil, Mr Singh queried how relevant several lines of questioning were to the assessment of damages, for example: ‘Does your family control Singapore?’ and ‘Do you hate Dr Chee?’

When Mr Ravi asked if PM Lee was aware that the Chees were already bankrupt and thus the Lees could have nothing to gain from the defamation suit, he replied:

‘This case is not about money. It is about establishing truth and putting a stop to poisonous lies.’

The hearing continues today, with Dr Chee resuming his cross-examination of PM Lee.

MM Lee, who was in court from 4.05pm yesterday, is expected to take the stand as well.

sueann@sph.com.sg

And in today’s papers, MM Lee called the SDP Chief a political juvenile and near-psychopath:

MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew called Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan a ‘near-psychopath’ and a ‘political juvenile’, while Dr Chee accused MM Lee of curbing his political life and curtailing their face-off in court.

Potshots and political speeches filled Day 2 of the open court hearing to assess the damages that the SDP, its chief and his sister Chee Siok Chin have to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee, following a defamation judgment in 2006.

Under cross-examination by SDP’s lawyer M. Ravi, MM Lee declared of Dr Chee: ‘He’s a liar, a cheat, and altogether an unscrupulous man. I could also add that I’ve had several of my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct… tell me that he is near-psychopath.’

The SDP leader, he added later when cross-examined by Dr Chee himself, should take a leaf from veteran opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam’s book. He recently set up the Reform Party.

The latter had discharged himself from bankruptcy so that he can contest future elections, while Dr Chee had ‘neutered’ himself politically by remaining a bankrupt.

‘You may believe that being bankrupt does not mean anything, but then, you are a political juvenile,’ he charged.

Dr Chee’s conduct had destroyed the SDP, he said.

‘The SDP was doing very well under Mr Chiam See Tong, and at one time captured three seats (in Parliament), and it became the de facto leader.

‘You came in, and destroyed the SDP. As a result, the Workers’ Party has become the de facto leader.’

Dr Chee, said Mr Lee, ought to emulate opposition MPs such as Mr Chiam and Mr Low Thia Khiang who had managed to get elected without defaming anyone.

‘They have won successive elections, but you have lost successively, because we have proved to the people that you are not to be believed,’ said Mr Lee.

MM Lee took the stand at 12.50pm, after PM Lee, who stepped down from the witness box at 12.15pm.

Where Monday’s hearing had been fraught with delays and disruptions, yesterday’s proceeded with speed and efficiency – even to the extent of skipping lunch.

This was because Justice Belinda Ang granted a request from Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, lawyer for the Lees, to impose a guillotine time of two hours for the questioning of MM Lee.

After the cross-examination of PM Lee on Monday, said Mr Singh, it became obvious that the Chees simply wanted to ‘insult’, ‘annoy’ and ‘scandalise’, and to turn the hearing into ‘political theatre’, rather than to make a substantive case.

Both sides spent 50 minutes arguing the guillotine issue.

‘You’ve already chopped off our arms, legs, what do you want next, our heads?’ said Ms Chee, in a direct reference to the guillotine.

Still, when Dr Chee resumed his cross-examination of PM Lee yesterday, his first 20 or so questions did not get a reply as they were ruled irrelevant by the judge.

Nearing lunch time, Mr Singh asked for the hearing to continue over the lunch hour, but with a 10-minute break, so that MM Lee could attend to ‘important matters’ later in the afternoon.

Ms Chee objected, arguing that she needed to eat so that she could take medication, while Mr Ravi quipped: ‘My stomach has not been given notice.’

Ms Chee brought food into the courtroom later but did not eat it.

The cross-examination of MM Lee lasted till 3.15pm, after which he and PM Lee left the court.

The hearing continues at 2.30pm today, with each side having an hour-and-a-half each to make its closing statement.

sueann@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th May 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. Aidil Omar | May 28th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    It’s a no-brainer coming from the 15th ranked newspaper in the world. If we echoed the same sentiments, it may reflect its dismal effectiveness.

  2. Anonymous | May 28th, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I am not a fan of CSJ, but to observe such bul-lees at work just sickens me!

  3. Lenox | May 28th, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Why is it that they only ‘bul lees’ the Chees ?
    I really wish to see less of the Chees theatretics.

    Pls get them a life.

  4. ignorantsoup | May 28th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I don’t think they are bullying the Chees. The Chees like finding thing to be bullied. Somewhere in the papers it was mentioned that when the MM’s lawyer asked for no lunch break so MM could attend to important matters in the afternoon, Ms Chee said she needs food to take medication. But in the end she bought food into court but did not consume it. So is it saying for the sake of saying? Sometimes I don’t understand them. Do we need to go to that extend? To be sued? I think this whole thing is just lame.

  5. Noel Boyd | May 28th, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Well, the Chee’s deserve everything they are getting. MM Lee wasn’t wrong in calling him a near-psychopath. Who in the right mind would behave like him? I sure as hell wouldn’t want a person like Chee to lead our country.

  6. Paddy Tan | May 29th, 2008 at 12:03 am

    It is a big dress down .. appearing in all major newspapers.

  7. Yvonne Ang | May 29th, 2008 at 2:02 am

    the opposition seemed so much like clowns making a mockery of themselves in public.

    and so what if its a “no-brainer coming from the 15th ranked newspaper in the world” as quoted above, it is really what happened at the court.

    how to gain the respect of Singaporeans?

    they are merely a joke.

  8. Yvonne Ang | May 29th, 2008 at 2:04 am

    oh yah, just in case, the public have queued for many hours to attend the trial.

    so ask them.

    i believe what is reported may just consist of more facts than inconsistent truths.

  9. Aaron | May 29th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    First off, the SDP does not represent the opposition. It is but one part of them.

    Secondly, despite looking really stupid in court (many of the people were shaking their head in disbelief when the Chees raised their 15th irrelevant question in a row), i believe they have an agenda that is not known to us.

    And in a sense, i think they have achieved what they wanted to do. After all, the Chees wanted everything to be recorded.

    Though if you actually saw them in the court room, ‘political juvenile’ is a far kinder word than what i would have used.

    Aaron

  10. navi | May 29th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    When is the hearing on Friday at the Supreme Courts and what time is it scheduled to start?I would like to go and hear for myself how it pans out and see if what everyone says is really true. Could someone give me some directions?

  11. Jo | May 30th, 2008 at 9:05 am

    like Aaron said, there may be a hidden agenda… and it seems to me its none other than to “discredit the opposition”. that’s the signal i’ve been getting so far; “if you vote for opposition, you’re voting for these near-psychopaths”??? whahahaha

    its amazing to see the clown still at work after these years. when we’re slogging our days away to bring bread to the table, this academic turn politician has the resources to sustain his “near-disastrous” political campaigns for years. battles & wars are financially consuming, regardless of military or political. has anyone wonder where’s the $$ coming from??? is he “paid” to be the clown???

    even when i agree with the opposition’s (CSJ don’t represent the whole opposition) claim that our current political environment is less “democratic” than desired, his means of pursuing a better tomorrow is outrageously inappropriate and sometimes questionable. how then can he expect to gain respect/support of the people whom he claims to be representing??? he’s not representing me at the least!

    and wow! with political parties headed by man of such calibre, no wonder they’re trying to work wonders. unless they start cleaning up their acts, they can continue to wonder about wonders.

    just a 0.00000002 cents non-substantiated opinion… please don’t summon me to court 🙂

  12. Zhanzhao | May 30th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    ^^
    … not forgetting to mention that he’s supposed to be a bankrupt….. Maybe the issue of transparency does need to be addressed, but this time widened in scope to cover the Chees 😉

  13. Jam | June 7th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Where was Chee when Lee turn Singapore into what it is today? Does Chee has any track record to proof that he can be as good to lead the country?
    I am not a supporter of PAP and have on occasions,did not vote for them. But over the years I have come to appreciate what we have. Yes, there are alot of issues to raise, but which country doesn’t have?? Name me one country where everyone is happy 100%..
    All I have observe over the years about Dr Chee is that he is making a fool of himself.If he is that good, will Mr. Chiam distance himself from him? Why don’t they team up with him? The way he behave in court and in public, leaves any thing to be desire..More so if he said that he is guided by his faith (Christian faith that is). I think he is giving those of us Christian a bad name, to behave in such a way that is so unchristian like. Over these years, I see nothing more than his drive to get even personally with our MM Lee.

    When MM Lee gives a talk or forum in another country, we see people coming to hear him out. But when Dr. Chee goes out doing the same, do we see the same kind of interest from the world community? Maybe he is more suited for some country style of politics ( I don’t wish to name the country) where they fought and turn tables, chairs and where punches are thrown at one another..This type of political system need someone like him where his presense will be really felt..

    Finally I want to say, all I see in Dr. Chee’s act is nothing more then a circus show of its worse kind that lacks professionalism. Does he give us Singaporean confidence to vote him as a leader? I give him a minus ten for that. Jam

  14. abc | June 16th, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    By Fang Zhi Yuan

    Following Dr Chee’s incarceration for contempt of court for which he was sentenced to 12 days’ imprisonment, the spin doctors at the state controlled media are quick to demonize him as a mentally unsound crankpot whose words are not to be trusted.

    3 articles appeared in quick succession in the Straits Times and TODAY attacking not only Dr Chee’s methods, but his mental capacity as well by a journalist with no medical background playing psychiatrist in labeling Dr Chee as having an “anti-social personality” disorder.

    This is not the first time that Dr Chee has been subjected to such public humiliation at the hands of the PAP journalists. The difference is, this time, their arguments against Dr Chee are not only unconvincing, but are utterly unfounded, despicable and repungant in their insidious motives to completely demolish a man who is unable to defend himself behind bars.

    Unexpectedly to the dismay and horror of the establishment, these baseless personal attacks and character assassination have stirred a furore in cyberspace with many previously neutrals decrying the disgusting smear campaign of the media and expressing their solidarity for Dr Chee.

    Prominent psychologist Anthony Yeo wrote in a letter to Chua Lee Hoong, one of the many self-proclaimed “psychiatrist” of the Straits Times that

    “It appears to be an unwarranted scathing attempt at character assassination of the most uncharitable kind.This attack culminated in your amateurish attempt at offering a diagnosis of his personality that is flawed in all ways as a diagnosis of personality disorder requires a fuller expose of that which constitutes a disorder.”

    Mr Chia Ti Lik, a lawyer who represented U.S. blogger Gopalan Nair in his recent trial for sedition criticized all three journalists for their atrocious standards of journalism:

    “In short, we have a political editor trying to play psychologist, an assistant editor without an independent opinion, and a journalist who had an opinion of how the article should read even before he started his interviews. Faced with such glaring facts, it is no wonder the press in Singapore is being ranked 154th in the world.”

    Dr Wong Wee Nam summed it up succinctly the sentiments of the majority of netizens when he said that:

    “It is one thing to disagree with a person’s ideology, his methods and his political agenda. By all means, attack his thoughts, his values and his principles. By all means, criticise him with the harshest of words on his methods and his agenda. But to suggest that a person may be mentally not right when there has never been a psychiatric examination, is the meanest thing to do, especially from journalists whom the public expect to be factual and objective. Where is the medical evidence?”

    Realizing its blatant folly, the state media immediately backtracked and published a series of “objective” articles on human rights and civil disobedience ingrained with subtle attacks on Dr Chee’s political idealogy and methods.

    In a ST Insight article today entitled “4 schools of opposition politics”, Zakir Hussain appeared to have learnt a lesson from his collegues by concentrating on doing his job as a journalist instead of masquerading as a psychiatrist. Still the article contained veiled jibes at Dr Chee by evoking the successful “track records” of opposition MPs Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Kiang to dismiss him as a political juvenile.

    A quote by PAP MP Charles Chong that voters here “appear put off by extremism” is another lame attempt to influence the public perception that Dr Chee’s extra-parliamentary route to effect political changes are infeasible and even unlawful in Singapore’s current political climate.

    Why is the regime so anxious to chart the course of opposition politics in Singapore even at the expense of promoting its supposedly “rivals” – Low and Chiam as the more acceptable and palatable alternatives ?

    One need only look at the political careers of these two men. With no offence to Mr Low and Mr Chiam – they have proven themselves to be great MPs for their respective constituencies, what political changes or reforms have they implemented after more a decade in Parliament?

    The regime is more than happy to allow a few such “obedient” opposition MPs who are no threat to their politcal hegemony in Parliament in order for them to continue to promote Singapore as a “democracy” to the international audience.

    On the hand, Dr Chee’s calls for reform of the entire system will not only disrupt their political machinations, but will uproot their stranglehold on the branches of the government -both the executive and the judiciary once and for all.

    Dr Chee’s message is finding resonance amongst the younger net-savvy generation and perhaps that is why the regime is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the current political trend. It even acknowledged tacitly that “Dr Chee’s strongest following seems to be on the internet where he has been hailed as someone ‘planting the seed for a beter and freer Singapore.”

    The regime has sought to muzzle Dr Chee and bar him from electoral politics for good. Nobody expects Dr Chee to walk away from the trial paying only $1 in damages. The trial itself has been an eye-opener, striking a fateful blow to the aura of moral righteousness enshrouding the regime. However it is what that follows next which truly exposed the innermost fears and vulnerability of the regime.

    Dr Chee has won a great moral victory against the regime which is partially contributed by its over-zealous efforts to destroy him politically to the extent of attacking not only his character but sanity. This has put off many who are previously ambivalent about Dr Chee but now has become more sympathetic to his cause and willing to listen to what he has to say.

    We may not agree with the political endeavors of Dr Chee entirely, but surely this man deserves our respect for his tenacity, courage and conviction.

    After all, if Dr Chee is indeed a lunatic who cannot be taken seriously, why spent so much time, efforts and taxpayers’ money on him?

  15. cha cha | June 21st, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    The Lees should take a practical approach and be better off ignoring CSJ. They will gain nothing out of the defamation suit. And why continue to flog a dead horse? Using a sledgehammer on a small ant reflects poorly on modern leadership. A new wave of young voters may cause tidal wave as in recent malaysia electios. Forgive and forget and. Take a leaf from the US politcians, Be magnanimous. The party will continue to strengthen based on performance and tolerance in dissent. Stand tall and not get your good reputaton being ridiculed. Youngsters are rebellious and thinking people. Change with the times. And time will tell who is right.

  16. FD | March 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Dr Chee is the last remaining Singapore Hero, after the passing of the late JBJ.

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