Will ST deny SDP right of reply again?

Dr Chee Soon Juan sent a letter to the ST today in reply to two letters that were published in the Forum page attacking the SDP. Readers are reminded that the ST refused to run the Democrats’ reply to a feature article and some letters a few weeks ago.

Questions about judicial system not created by me: Chee

The two letters Singaporeans will see through Chee’s act (ST, Oct 15, 2004) and SDP chief out to bring judiciary into disrepute (ST, Oct 21, 2004) result from the medias continued campaign to mislead Singaporeans.

The fee for filing my affidavit was not $20 but almost $100. To file two separate affidavits would have cost almost $200.

This, however, is not the issue at hand. What the Straits Times refused to tell Singaporeans was that the staff at the Registry of the Supreme Court had taken away my affidavit before I could file it, telling me that the Registrar had to check the format.

This behaviour is highly irregular, not to mention improper. I have asked the Registrar these questions: Is it normal for Registry officials to pay such close attention to people filing affidavits? Why was my affidavit taken from me? Is it part of the Registrars duties to check the format of affidavits? He refused to respond.

On previous occasions I was allowed to file my affidavits in exactly the way that I had tried to do on this occasion without any hindrance. Why the change in procedure all of a sudden? Again, the Registrar refused to answer my question.

It is episodes such as this that raises questions about our judicial system in cases involving PAP officials suing opposition leaders. Long before I entered the political scene, observers have repeatedly raised such concerns. I did not create them.

To ensure that our judiciary carries out its functions without the constant questioning of its impartiality, it is important that it answers questions such as the ones I raised above as well as other questions that have arisen whenever Mr Lee Kuan Yew and company take their opponents to court.

It is no good decrying Western democracies for meddling in Singapores affairs when there are legitimate questions about our nations insititutions. Dont forget, Singapore does not hesitate to interfere in other peoples affairs. The recent China-Taiwan imbroglio following Mr Lee Hsien Loongs visit to Taiwan is a good example.

Autocratic regimes need to keep their citizens from the democratic global community. This is why they make the argument that criticisms of its system are Western and, therefore, bad. Worse, citizens who make those criticisms are branded as foreign stooges. This is not the way to turn Singapore into an open, confident and dynamic society one that we so badly need in order to remain competitive in the new era.

Another thing: let us stop equating Singapore with the PAP. The former is our country to which we all belong. The latter is a political party that is supposed to serve the people. The PAP and their supporters continue to try to blur the line in the hope that calls for the reform of the system that the PAP has put in place is immediately deemed an attack on Singapore and, therefore, out of bounds.

So what is this system that I talk about? It is the system that allows the PAP to manipulate elections, controls the media so that they become the ruling partys mouthpieces, and denies Singaporeans their political rights. It is the system that keeps the PAP in perpetual power.

It is also the system that spells trouble for Singapores future, one that the Singapore Democrats are determined to fix.

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party