In a democracy the public gets to decide (audio recording 3a)

Here is another section of the cross-examination of Mr Lee Kuan Yew by Dr Chee Soon Juan.


If you prefer, you can download the audio here (.aac, 1.5 MB) or here (.mp3, 0.6 MB).

LKY: You asked yesterday whether we are out to make you further bankrupt? So what is the purpose? Let me give you the explanation. You may believe that being a bankrupt does not mean anything but then you’re a political juvenile. Mr JB Jeyaretnam knows there two ways in which you can overturn the government. One, constitutionally. The other, illegally and violently. If you want to have any influence, you must get into parliament. You have disqualified yourself, you cannot participate in any elections. As long as you stay in that sterile state, muted yourself politically in the constitutional way and by every further action, the damages go up on you, the longer the number of years you will be disqualified. And Mr Jeyaretnam knew that and he found the resources to pay up and settle his bankruptcy so that he can come back because he knows unless he’s qualified, he’s not within the constitutional process. Unfortunately, Dr Chee, you have not seen the point.

CSJ : Mr Lee, may I ask you right now. Whilst you said that I think it’s prefectly alright to be a bankrupt. I’m telling you, right now, you don’t know what it means to be a bankrupt. I have three young children to take care of. I’m not complaining to you. I will take care of my own affairs. But for you to tell me right now that I should then work to pay off these debts that I owe you, it’s disingenuous to say the least because that’s what you want me to do. You will sue me over and over and over again and continue to make me work to make the money so that I cannot concentrate doing the political work – I haven’t finished – to do the political work, to be able overcome this system which you have put in place, a system that is undemocratic, a system that abuses the rule of law, a system to ensure that you and your party perpetuate its hold on political power. I refused to play this game because that is a game that we cannot win. The only way that we can win is when there is a democratic system, when there is a rule of law and when both parties, ruling and opposition, have equal opportunity to reach out to voters and tell them what is best for Singapore and let the voters decide. Everytime I walk into the public and I decide to communicate with them, to sell my newsapaper, to talk to them, you jail me. You tell me where is the sense in all this? I will take whatever you dish out, Mr Lee, because at the end of the day, I know I have right on my side and as long as justice is with me, there is nothing that you can do to me that will make me back off.

LKY : That is his credo, your honour. We believe he has got to play by the rules –

CSJ : Rules which you have set up. Rules which you keep changing.

LKY : Bankrupts being disqualified is a rule that applies in the United Kingdom, it applies in all the countries that have derived their systems from the British so it was a rule which was in place, not one we created. If you’re a bankrupt in England, you cannot participate in elections. Therefore, do not become a bankrupt.

CSJ : In other words, what you’re saying, therefore do not criticise you –

LKY : No –

CSJ : That’s the difference because do you see Mr Gordon Brown, or Tony Blair, or Mr George Bush suing their political opponents? Whatever is said, your honour, remains in the political realm and at the end of the day, they allow the public to make the decision. That is the difference, Mr Lee.

Acknowledgement: much of the written script is credited to the work of Martyn See at

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