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 leaders seek ‘unprecedented’ damages

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.

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6 responses

  1. dispossessed

    It will not be long before the old man gets a law passed that will make it illegal for a bankrupt to make public comments. Right, take away his right to free speech if he has no moolah to pay for slander.

    You watch.

    May 29, 2008 at 11:28 pm

  2. Vincent

    If that happens, we have to take our ‘voting dollars’ elsewhere. Emigration anyone?

    May 30, 2008 at 2:15 am

  3. 7th Son

    Stalemate? What is this stalemate of which you speak? Unless you’re being deliberately disingenuous, you cannot have failed to notice that the game has moved on.

    The plaintiffs desperation to cling to their crown at ANY cost has been laid bare to the nation. Noses are being held with every report of the court proceedings. Credibility has been seriously damaged, but not that of the defendants. The ground has shifted irrespective of the certainty of the expected verdict.

    Your headline could just as well have read “Lees, The Last Hurrah” and been equally valid.

    May 30, 2008 at 2:40 am

  4. Pingback: The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 30 May 2008

  5. exsingie

    First, my hats off to Dr. Chee for his courage in speaking up that none of us including me have the courage or the balls to walk the talk. My take on his representing himself in court & using the court as his pulpit was a wonderful opportunity for him to turn the tables on the lees by having them spout the stuff on record & for the whole world to see the lees for what they are. I’m sure Dr. Chee is under no illusions that he would be able to win in court at all. I salute you, Dr. Chee!

    May 31, 2008 at 10:42 am

  6. Pingback: The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 22

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