Chees’ Last Stand
Not unexpected that the Chees are having a bad time in court. They have had their chance to cross-examine the father-son duo but Davinder Singh, the same guy who destroyed TT Durai in the NKF trial, argued that most of Chee Soon Juan’s questions were irrelevant e.g. whether the Lee family controlled Singapore.
The Chees know they would lose the case. They don’t trust the judiciary to be fair and they know that Davinder Singh is an experienced litigator. Chee Soon Juan on the other hand is representing himself. Why he did not want his activist comrades M Ravi or Chia Ti Lik to take on the Lees is anybody’s guess. Either they don’t wish to, Chee Soon Juan does not trust them to do a good job, or maybe he does not want to get them involved in the very personal family feud between the Chees and the Lees. By not getting experienced lawyers to defend him, Chee is deliberately undermining himself in court, but gaining much to depict himself as the David against the Goliath.
What the Chees are doing is to extract as much political coverage of this case as possible as a publicity stunt. Both brother and sister are declared bankrupt and cannot stand for election so they have nothing to lose. What they have is lots of free time and despite their bankruptcy, money to sustain themselves.
Obviously bankruptcy and short jail terms do not deter the Chees anymore in their political quest. The local media has destroyed the Chee’s credibility while the foreign media has elevated him as the opposition’s leader. A stalemate has been reached and the only people who benefit from this Chee-Lee feud are opposition parties like WP, who are sitting quietly and smartly on the sidelines as SDP and PAP throw themselves at each other and lose much needed respectability along the way.
SINGAPORE (AFP) — Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his son Premier Lee Hsien Loong sought “unprecedented” damages Wednesday as the trial of an opposition leader for defamation came to an emotional climax.
The Lees, stung by two days of cross-examination by Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), asked a Supreme Court judge to punish the pro-democracy activist for his behaviour in court.
Their lawyer, Davinder Singh, said Chee acted like a “hooligan” and exhibited “loutish behaviour” when he grilled the two leaders on the witness stand and ignored the judge’s admonitions about his manner of questioning.
Singh said that despite a court injunction, Chee repeated allegations of corruption against the Lees in court and posted them on the Internet, an action that merits an “unprecedented award” of damages.
“The case for substantial damages is very compelling,” he said.
Chee, summing up his defence, told the packed courtroom he stood by everything that was written in a party publication at the heart of the case, but added he harboured no personal hatred against the Lees.
“I do not hate Lee Hsien Loong, I do not hate Lee Kuan Yew and I do not wish them ill for what they have done and continue to do to me and my family,” he said.
Chee had been found guilty of defamation over allegations of government corruption made in an SDP newsletter ahead of general elections in May 2006.
The SDP and Chee’s sister and fellow pro-democracy activist Chee Siok Chin were named as co-defendants.
Defence lawyer M. Ravi, representing the SDP, said the Lees only deserved to be awarded a token 50 Singapore cents (37 US cents) because their reputations were not hurt by what the SDP and the Chees said.
Hearings were held this week to determine the amount of damages and the Lees took the witness stand to press their case, allowing the defendants to cross-examine them.
Chee, acting as his own lawyer, used strong language as he questioned the record of the Lees and the necessity of strict political controls in Singapore, now Southeast Asia’s most economically advanced society.
The Lees — the father was prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and his son came to power in 2004 — dismissed Chee’s attacks and said he further damaged their reputations during the cross-examination.
The Lees and other Singapore leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from lawsuits against members of the country’s tiny opposition.
Chee is already bankrupt after failing to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (365,000 US) in libel damages to the elder Lee and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, for remarks he made in the 2001 elections.