16 May 07
Dr Chee Soon Juan asked High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang to disqualify himself from hearing the appeal of his conviction for speaking in public without a permit.
Dr Chee was found guilty together with Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Mr Yap Keng Ho by District Judge Eddy Tham in November 2006 when they were selling The New Democrat, SDP’s flagship publication, during the election period last year.
Judge Tay had previously rejected an application by the SDP leader to admit a Queen’s Counsel (QC) to act for him in his defamation fight against Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong. Mr Tay said that the case did not warrant the admission of a QC because it was “not complex enough.”
“This is despite my telling you that without a QC, I would not be represented because no local lawyer would dare to represent me,” Dr Chee explained.
“Your decision raised many eye-brows and continues to raise many eye-brows,” he continued, adding that he did not know of a single lawyer who has indicated that a defamation case is not complex enough for a lawyer to argue it.
“I ended up arguing the case myself against Mr Davinder Singh, a Senior Counsel, representing the plaintiffs.”
In the courtroom today, Mr Tay rejected the application to recuse himself saying that his decision in 2001 was not directed personally at Dr Chee.
Earlier on, Mr Yap Keng Ho, the co-appellant, had applied for the hearing to be postponed so that he could make arrangements for Mr J B Jeyaretnam to act for him.
Mr Jeyartenam was recently discharged from bankruptcy and may to want to get back into legal practice.
Judge Tay also rejected Mr Yap’s application and ordered the hearing to proceed.
In his submissions, Dr Chee cited two major problem areas that took place in the trial before District Judge Eddy Tham:
One, that the trial judge erred when he stopped the Defence from adducing evidence to show that the police had unfairly targeted the SDP during the election activities in April 2006.
Two, that it is unconstitutional for the Government to continue to ban outdoor political activities for opposition parties while allowing them for its own party.
The Judge dismissed the appeals without much deliberation and refused to address the two issues that Dr Chee had canvassed.
When challenged the Judge merely parroted the view that in order for one to speak in public a permit must be obtained