Below is the affidavit that Dr Chee Soon Juan filed in support of his application to reconvene the hearing to assess the damages that Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong are seeking. He wants to cross-examine the two former prime ministers.
I, Chee Soon Juan (NRIC No. S1570330Z), of 1357A Serangoon Road, Singapore 328240, do hereby solemnly affirm and say as follows:
1. I am the Defendant in this Suit. I make this affidavit in support of my application for the hearing for assessment of damages to be reconvened so that I can call the plaintiffs to the stand for cross-examination.
2. The facts deposed herein are based on my personal knowledge and are true.
3. I informed the courts on 31 January 2004 that I was going to be away from February to August 2004 on a fellowship in the United States and had asked the Registrar to adjourn the lawsuits until my return.
4. I left Singapore for Durban, South Africa to attend a conference of the World Movement for Democracy from 1-5 February 2004. I returned to Singapore from South Africa on 6 February 2004. I left Singapore on 11 February 2004 and returned on 14 September 2004.
5. I found out upon my return to Singapore in September 2004 that after receiving my letter of 31 January 2004, the plaintiffs had written to the Registrar on 4 February 2004 to ask for a session to set the dates for the hearing for assessment of damages. The plaintiffs lawyer, Drew & Napier, normally meticulous in its preparations, had curiously left out this letter in the Plaintiffs Bundle of Documents (Volume 2) which it submitted on 6 September 2004.
6. Based upon this request, the Registrar called all parties in a letter dated 5 February 2004 to attend court on 10 February 2004. The indication on the letter was that it was faxed to the parties only and not sent by post. I did not see the letter when it was faxed on 5 February 2004. I saw it only in the Plaintiffs Bundle of Documents (Volume 2) dated 6 September 2004.
7. The courts conducted the session on 10 February 2004 in my absence. It fixed the hearing for assessment of damages on 6-8 September 2004.
8. When I subsequently found out about the 6-8 September 2004 hearing dates in July 2004, I wrote to the Registrar on 28 July 2004 to ask for a postponement.
9. The Registrar replied on 12 August 2004, informing me that parties would attend court on 2 September 2004 to hear my application.
10. I wrote again to the Registrar saying that because I was going to be back only in mid-September I would not be able to make it for the session on 2 September 2004.
11. The hearing for directions took place on 2 September 2004 and the hearing for assessment of damages took place on 6 September 2004, both in my absence.
12. I left the United States on 30 August 2004 and arrived in Taiwan on 31 August 2004.
13. I remained in Taiwan and attended a meeting of the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia on 9 to 10 September 2004.
14. I left Taiwan on 14 September 2004 and arrived in Singapore the same day.
15. After my return on 14 September 2004, I found out that the plaintiffs had requested that the hearing on 6-8 September 2004 be re-scheduled. They had wanted to bring forward the hearing to 26-27 August 2004 because they had official matters to tend to. If the plaintiffs knew they were going to busy on 6-8 September 2004, why could they not have requested that the hearing be postponed to a later date? Why did they ask to bring the dates forward to August when they were aware that I would be back only after August?
16. The plaintiffs subsequently withdrew their application. But this fact is immaterial. What is relevant is that they had intentions of bringing the hearing forward to a date that they knew that I was not going to be able to make. This is indicative of their trying to avoid being cross-examined during the hearing.
17. More disturbingly, the courts set 26 July 2004 to hear the plaintiffs application, a date which it knew I was not going to be able to make. In its letter dated 16 July 2004, the Registrar required all parties to attend court to confirm the new dates asked for by the plaintiffs.
18. Another indication that the plaintiffs are trying to avoid being cross-examined in court comes from a letter from their lawyer dated 11 August 2004. It states, in part: Parties were asked to appear before the Assistant Registrar on 10 February 2004 to take dates for the hearing of the assessment. Dr Chee did not attend the hearing. Instead, he sent a fax dated 31 January 2004 to the Registrar stating that he would be out of the country until August 2004. (emphasis added) Reading the letter, one would conclude that I had known about the hearing on 10 February, deliberately ignored it and instead faxed my 31 January letter.
19. A check on the facts would show that the plaintiffs lawyer received my 31-January letter on 3 February 2004. It was only after this that they wrote to the courts to ask for a hearing to set the dates for the hearing for assessment. I had mentioned in paragraph 5 that the normally meticulous collation of documents by the plaintiffs lawyer had somehow managed not to include a letter a letter which they themselves wrote on 4 February 2004 to the courts in the Plaintiffs Bundle of Documents (Volume 2). Was it because they did not want the courts to be reminded that they had written the letter asking to fix the hearing dates after they received my letter of 31 January? And yet they now scheme and lie in a brazen attempt to mislead the courts into thinking that I had known about the 10-February hearing and that I had faxed the 31-January letter to avoid attending it.
20. If the plaintiffs are not afraid to face me in court why do they resort to such blatant distortion of the truth in order to convince the courts not to allow my request to postpone the 6-September hearing?
21. I am also disturbed by the fact that the courts would schedule a session for directions on 2 September 2004. Even if Justice Kan Ting Chiu assumed that I would be back the earliest possible date after August, it would have to be 1 September. Given that I have to travel all the way with my family from the United States to Singapore and arrive late in the evening, and given that I have been away for 6 months, is it reasonable for Mr Kan to expect me to attend court the following day at 10 am?
22. I had asked for the hearing on 6 September to be postponed by a few weeks. At the latest in would have been over and done with by now. Instead, the hearing has unnecessarily been extended into November 2004.
23. The courts and plaintiffs have proceeded with hearings in my absence and continued to schedule hearings in my absence. It is clear that the courts have accorded the plaintiffs one standard of treatment and another one for me. This is unacceptable and leaves me to doubt whether I will be able receive justice in these lawsuits.
24. At the very least, it is only proper that the hearing for the assessment of damages be reconvened for me to cross-examine the plaintiffs. Otherwise it will be even more evident that the plaintiffs are trying to avoid being cross-examined in court. Worse, the courts will be seen to be partial to the plaintiffs.
Sworn in Singapore this )
day of October 2004 )