Dr Chee Soon Juan has written to the courts to ask for a hearing to set the dates for the trial in his lawsuit against Mr Lee Kuan Yew (see letter below). Dr Chee had filed a countersuit against Mr Lee in 2001.
This is a separate matter from the one currently in progress in which Mr Lee and Mr Goh Chok Tong are suing Dr Chee for defamation. In this latter case, the hearing was conducted in Dr Chee’s absence. The SDP secretary-general has insisted that he be allowed to cross-examine the two former prime ministers and the courts have agreed to allow him to make an application on 30 September 2004 to call Mr Lee and Mr Goh to the stand.
23 September 2004
With reference to my counterclaim against Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I would like to request for parties to attend court to set the earliest date for the trial. I enclose a copy of the media reports concerning the matter.
Chee Soon Juan
Minister Mentor to Chee Soon Juan: Prove that you’re not afraid
Proceed with defamation claim filed in 2001, says Mr Lee
MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew responded last night to assertions by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan that he was not afraid of being cross-examined, or of cross-examining Mr Lee or Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in court.
A statement issued by his press secretary Yeong Yoon Ying said if that were the case, then Dr Chee would have the opportunity to do so if he proceeded with a previously filed defamation claim against Mr Lee.
If Dr Chee was indeed not afraid of being cross-examined, or of undertaking a cross-examination, ‘why then has he run away from his defamation claim against Mr Lee?’ the statement asked.
The statement said that Dr Chee had, on Dec 22, 2001, ‘filed a defamation claim against Mr Lee for calling him a fraud, liar, cheat, and political
Mr Lee had, in turn, filed a defence stating that he would, at the trial, ‘rely on Dr Chee’s own conduct to show that the allegations are true’.
The statement noted: ‘Instead of asking the court to fix the trial, Dr Chee backed off, and has done nothing since December 2001 to proceed with his claim. There is only one explanation. He is afraid of being cross-examined, and of cross-examining Mr Lee.
‘If he is really keen to confront Mr Lee face to face, he should proceed with his defamation claim. He will then have a second chance to cross- examine Mr Lee.’
The statement last night came in the wake of comments by Dr Chee on Tuesday in which the SDP chief referred to Mr Lee, Mr Goh and the court system after a High Court hearing here on Monday.
Dr Chee was absent from that hearing, which was held to determine the damages he had to pay both leaders for defamatory remarks he had made during the 2001 General Election campaign. He had accused both leaders of
misleading Parliament about an alleged $17-billion loan to former Indonesian president Suharto.
He apologised, but did not pay damages and later withdrew the apology. The High Court ruled in August 2002 that Dr Chee had defamed the leaders and ordered him to pay damages. He appealed but lost in April last year.
In his statement on Tuesday, Dr Chee alleged that the hearing on Monday went ahead despite his asking for a postponement because Mr Goh and Mr Lee wanted to avoid being cross-examined by him.
Both men ‘objected to the postponement and wanted to proceed in my absence’, he said, adding later: ‘They did not want me to be present to cross-examine them.’
He also called the hearing a ‘charade’, and said it could have been postponed until his return from Taiwan – where he is currently.
‘I’d be happy to be cross-examined and then have the opportunity to do the same with Lee and Goh,’ he added.
Mr Davinder Singh, the counsel for Mr Lee and Mr Goh, said at Monday’s hearing that Dr Chee had deliberately stayed away so he and the foreigners who fund him could ‘conjure up a complaint of unfairness and, in the process, attack Singapore’.
Mr Singh also made the point that Dr Chee had the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ to cross-examine Mr Goh and Mr Lee but had chosen instead to flee.
He did so because he did not want to be cross-examined and for the public to be reminded that he was a fraud, cheat and liar, Mr Singh added.
MM Lee challenges Dr Chee to proceed with earlier defamation suit
Channel News Asia
9 September 2004
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has challenged Dr Chee Soon Juan to proceed with his earlier defamation suit against him.
Mr Lee said Dr Chee was afraid of being cross-examined and afraid of cross-examining him.
He was responding to Dr Chee’s claims that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee had gone ahead with a court hearing against him (Dr Chee) in his absence, because they wanted to avoid being cross-examined by the opposition man.
Dr Chee did not turn up in court on Monday, and had asked for yet another in a series of postponements.
But in a statement issued by his press secretary, Mr Lee reminded Dr Chee that he had his chance.
In December 2001, Dr Chee filed a defamation claim against Mr Lee for calling him a fraud, liar, cheat and political gangster.
Mr Lee’s defence was that he would use Dr Chee’s own conduct to prove the allegations.
But Instead of asking the Court to fix the trial, Dr Chee backed off, and has done nothing since.
Mr Lee said there is only one explanation – that Dr Chee is afraid of being cross-examined and of cross-examining Mr Lee.
Mr Lee said If Dr Chee is really keen to confront him face to face, Dr Chee should proceed with his defamation claim. CNA
Chee afraid, says MM’s press sec
Dr Chee Soon Juan is afraid that is why he has run away from his defamation claim against Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, said Mr Lee’s press secretary yesterday.
In a press statement commenting on Dr Chee’s absence in court on Monday, Ms Yeong Yoon Ying noted that on Dec 22, 2001, Dr Chee had filed the claim “against Mr Lee for calling him a fraud, liar, cheat and political gangster”.
“Mr Lee filed a defence stating that he will, at the trial, rely on Dr Chee’s own conduct to show that the allegations are true. Instead of asking the Court to fix the trial, Dr Chee backed off, and has done nothing since December 2001 to proceed with his claim.
“There is only one explanation. He is afraid of being cross-examined and of cross-examining Mr Lee. If he is really keen to confront Mr Lee face-to-face, he should proceed with his defamation claim. He will then have a second chance to cross-examine Mr Lee,” read the statement.
On Tuesday, Dr Chee had released a statement saying he had applied for the hearing to be postponed as he was due in Taipei for a meeting.