AG to make Chee Siok Chin and two other activists bankrupt

Chao Hick Ting, Attorney-General and former Appeals JudgeAttorney-General Chao Hick Ting is out to make SDP CEC member, Ms Chee Siok Chin, and activists Ms Monica Kumar and Mr Yap Keng Ho bankrupts.

Mr Chao, a former Appeals Court Judge until his appointment as AG in 2006, has applied for a bankruptcy order against the three which will be heard on 17 Aug 07.

The matter involves a protest that Ms Chee, Ms Kumar, Mr Yap and Mr Charles Tan conducted in August 2005 where they called for transparency and accountability from Government institutions (GIC, HDB, and CPF) following the NKF scandal.

The four were met by the riot police and were threatened with arrest. They complied with the police order even though the Singapore Constitution clearly states that only five or more persons constitute an illegal assembly.

Ms Chee, Ms Kumar and Mr Yap then took up an Originating Summons to seek a declaration from the Judiciary that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police had overstepped their constitutional boundaries in breaking up the four-person protest. Mr Charles Tan was away.

Protesters calling for transparency from GovernmentHigh Court Judge V K Rajah not only dismissed the application but also ruled that Singapore citizens did not have the right to “cast doubt” on public institutions and equated public protests with public nuisances.

On what legal/constitutional grounds did Judge Rajah say that Singapore citizens had no right to protest against public institutions? But that’s another topic of discussion.

After the Judge awarded the case to the Executive, the AG then billed the three activists $23,749 and demanded $800-a-month installment payments.

After struggling to pay the amount for 5 months, Ms Chee informed the AG’s Chambers in April 2007 that she could not sustain the payment and tried to negotiate to pay $400 per month instead for the remaining $20,500.

But the AG insisted that he would not accept anything less than the stated sum of $800. So when Ms Chee could not afford last month’s payment, Mr Chao applied to make the three bankrupt.

The AG has also billed Ms Chee $11,232 for another case, this one involving her petition to the Supreme Court to declare the 2006 General Elections null and void on the basis of the PAP promising upgrading for votes, giving out money during elections, and banning podcasting and blogging.

Judge Andrew Phang again ruled in favour of the PAP Government.

All this for four protestersObviously, citizens are discouraged from taking the Government to court. In such a climate the rule of law cannot take root, much less flourish.

But then one would never know the extent of the abuse of power and violation of human rights in this country the way the PAP Government tries to play the role of the good boy in front of the world vis-a-vis the signing of the ASEAN charter.

If one reads hypocritical remarks like that of Foreign Minister George Yeo: “There was no reason why we should be allergic to human rights…” in his blog, one would think that the Singapore government is embracing human rights when in fact the opposite is true

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