In the lawsuit that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his prime minister son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, took against the SDP and its leaders, the Lees had applied for summary judgement, or Order 14 in legal parlance, for the case to be awarded to them without it going to trial.
The lawsuit was over an article the SDP had published in The New Democrat, the SDP’s flagship publication, describing how the NKF scandal was bred in a system built by the PAP where transparency and accountability were alien features.
During the Order 14 hearing in September last year defence counsel, Mr M Ravi, had taken ill and could not come to court.
The Lees’ lawyer, Mr Davinder Singh, then accused Mr Ravi and the defendants of being “devious” and that the lawyer’s absence was “nothing more than another attempt to delay the Order 14 applications.”
A medical certificate later proved that Mr Ravi was unfit to attend court.
During the hearing, Dr Chee Soon Juan had asked Judge Ang for a one- or two-week adjournment for Mr Ravi to recover or, if the the Judge refused, for time to look for another lawyer.
On both counts, Ms Ang refused, siding with Mr Singh. She ordered the summary judgment hearing to proceed with the defendants being unrepresented.
And so Judge Ang and Mr Singh sat cloistered in her chambers where she heard only the plaintiffs’ arguments and proceeded to award the case to the Lees.
Subsequently the Court’s Minute Sheet recorded what transpired between Ms Ang and Mr Singh. At one point, the Judge remarked that Dr Chee was “hedging his bets” to which Mr Singh responding, “Absolutely!”
On reading this, Dr Chee took out a Summons application to ask the Court for an extension of time to appeal Judge Ang’s decision as her actions and remarks were highly prejudicial to the defence’s case.
Things then got rather interesting. The Courts set the hearing for Dr Chee’s application for yesterday, 21 May 07. When Dr Chee arrived Mr Davinder Singh was already present.
And who was the judge? BINGO! Ms Belinda Ang!
“It is utterly amazing that you are presiding over this application which is about you,” Dr Chee pointed out the obvious.
As it turned out Judge Ang referred the matter to the Court of Appeal.
The burning question is why was another judge not assigned to hear the application? Isn’t it amazing that out of 12 High Court Judges, Ms Ang was assigned to preside over a matter in which she was the very subject of the controversy?
Hasn’t the Singapore Courts heard of the saying that “Justice must not only be done, but manifestly seen to be done”?