Why is Chee Soon Juan appealing his conviction?

15 May 07

Dr Chee Soon Juan’s appeal against his conviction for speaking in public without a permit will be heard tomorrow, 16 May 07, at the Supreme Court. Dr Chee was found guilty by District Judge Eddy Tham in November 2006 together with Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Mr Yap Keng Ho.

Mr Yap is also appealing. The hearing will be heard in Court 3D at 10 am before Judge Tay Yong Kwang.

Mr Tay was the judge that had refused to allow Dr Chee to engage a QC when Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong sued him in 2001, saying that the case was “not complex enough.” This was despite the fact that the SDP secretary-general had indicated that he could not find a Singaporean lawyer to represent him.

In the end, he had to argue the case himself against Mr Davinder Singh of Drew & Napier who acted for the two former prime ministers. The case was subsequently awarded to the plaintiffs without a trial when the Registrar ordered summary judgement against Dr Chee.

The present appeal involves the trial last year that was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. At one stage, it was discovered that the Investigating Officer was present in the courtroom when his fellow witnesses were on the stand giving evidence. He was also seen communicating with witnesses who had yet to testify.

The Defendants filed a Criminal Motion to complain about the matter but High Court Judge Choo Han Teck refused to hear the arguments, dismissing the applications out of hand.

Judge Eddy Tham had also refused to allow the Defendants to question the police about their discrimination against the opposition when it came to organising public rallies and marches.

Mr Tham repeatedly blocked attempts to ascertain from the police witnesses why the SDP was discriminated against when it came to interacting with voters during the elections last year when the “offence” took place.

This was in spite of the admission of the police officers that they had been briefed to watch out for “sensitive” cases involving the opposition. One officer even told the court that he had briefed his men the day before the event had taken place even though there was no prior announcement from the SDP.

As a result Dr Chee, Mr Ambalam, and Mr Yap were found guilty. They served prison sentences of several weeks.

So why is Dr Chee appealing? He has already served his prison term and even if the appeal was successful, he would not be able to get his time back.

To find out, login tomorrow again when Dr Chee’s submissions will be posted here

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