Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong have confirmed that they will apply for summary judgment in their lawsuit against Ms Chee Siok Chin and I. Such an act is appalling in two respects:
First, as leaders of Singapore the Lees are showing that they are unwilling to put their claims to public scrutiny. They have made very serious allegations against the defendants and told the world the they stand ready to be cross-examined in the witness box in order that their claims can be tested.
But when we call their bluff and challenge their lawsuit, they now try to hide behind a summary judgment. Such cravenness and flip-flopping cannot be the hallmark of Singapore’s future leadership.
There are questions that need to be asked and issues to be examined. The only way that the matter can be resolved in the public’s mind is for both sides to submit themselves to cross-examination and to present witnesses. Ms Chee Siok Chin and I state again that we are willing to undergo this process. The Lees must not make themselves appear even more foolish than they already have. They need to face us in court like individuals that they claim they are.
Second, summary judgment will make a mockery out of the legal process. Simply put, the Lees have said that they were defamed in The New Democrat article while we have stated that they were not. Should not there be a trial where evidence from both sides can be presented and the truth ascertained in a public and transparent manner?
A summary judgment will render this impossible because the case will be decided in chambers behind closed-doors where Ms Chee and I will not be able to cross-examine the Lees and adduce evidence from crucial witnesses. It is like accusing someone of committing murder but not allowing him to call witnesses and produce evidence in his defence. Is this what we want to see in our legal system? What kind of legal precedence are we setting?
All we are seeking is a fair and open trial. Surely this is not too much to ask. To this end, we are applying for the courts to prevent the Lees from going for summary judgment (see below).
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
Originating Summons No. )
In the matter of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore
In the matter of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322) and Rules of Court (Cap 322 Rule 5)
1 CHEE SIOK CHIN
2 CHEE SOON JUAN…Plaintiffs
LET ALL PARTIES concerned attend before the Judge in open court on the day of 2006 am / pm on the hearing of an application by the Plaintiffs for: –
1 A declaration that the repeal of Order 14 Rule 1(2) of the Rules of the
Supreme Court 1970, the text of which is set out hereunder, is a breach of principles of natural justice and/or unconstitutional; and
“Subject to paragraph (3), this Rule applies to every action begun by writ other than one which includes –
(a) a claim by the plaintiff for libel, slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, seduction or breach of promise of marriage; or
(b) a claim by the plaintiff based on an allegation of fraud.”
2 Such other relief and/or remedies as this Honourable Court deems fit.
The grounds of this application are set out in the affidavits of the Plaintiffs, Chee Siok Chin and Chee Soon Juan, filed herein.
Dated this 22nd day of June 2006
Entered No. of 2006
I, Chee Siok Chin/Chee Soon Juan, do hereby solemnly make oath and say as follows:
1 I am the 2nd Defendant in two High Court suits S261/2006/L and S262/2006/Q, and am the Applicant (i.e. Plaintiff) in the present proceedings.
2 The plaintiff for the suit S261/2006/L is the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the plaintiff for the suit S262/2006/Q is Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
3 The two suits S261/2006/L and S262/2006/Q are essentially actions for defamation.
4 I have been informed by my solicitors that the said plaintiffs’ solicitors had at the Pre-Trial Conference, which was held on 14 June 2006, indicated that the said plaintiffs were considering an application for summary judgment in the said suits. They have now confirmed their position that they intend to make an application for summary judgment. I am surprised that the said plaintiffs could proceed with such an application without affording me a right to a trial in open court. I sought the advice of my solicitors in respect of this matter.
5 I have been advised by my solicitors that there had been a legislative amendment of Order 14 Rule 1 of the Rules of Court, and that prior to the said amendment an application for summary judgement was disallowed in defamation actions.
6 in the circumstances, a fundamental right to have a trial in open court in defamation actions, a right which had previously been accorded to all citizens, had been been abrogated by Parliament. This abrogation is a violation of my constitutional rights.
7 Accordingly, I humbly urge this Court to allow order in terms of my application.