PM’s ridiculous pay—irrelevant! (audio recording 4b)

Here is a section of the cross-examination of Mr Lee Hsien Loong by Ms Chee Siok Chin.


If you prefer, you can download the audio here (.aac, 0.7 MB) or here (.mp3, 0.3 MB).

Chee Siok Chin : Good morning, Mr Lee.

Lee Hsien Loong : Good Morning.

CSC : Mr Lee, I hope you do realise that Senior Counsel is making you look rather bad for objecting to almost every question that was raised by the second defendent. He is now saying that he took the decision to strike out our AEIC himself. I have that –

Davindar Singh : Miss Chee should not misunderstand or misinterpret what I said –

CSC : He is making you look as if you cannot hold your own in court.

Singh : What I said and it’s on the record –

CSC : My first question to you, Mr Lee is –

Singh : Is that I advised the clients –

CSC : How long have you been the Prime Minister? How long have you held office as Prime Minister of Singapore?

LHL : Since August 2004.

CSC : So that’s almost 4 years?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : And during these 4 years as the Prime Minister, how many defamtion suits have you filed or initiated?


Singh : Your honour, what’s the relevance of that?

CSC : Mr Singh, please. Let your –

Singh : I do object on the basis of relevance, your honour.

Judge Belinda Ang : Sustained.

CSC : Would I be right to say that you’ve initiated 2, if not 3, defamation suits whilst in office as Prime Minister?

Singh : Objection based on relevance, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : As the leader of the country, Mr Lee, do you believe that it’s your job is to look after the development of the people i.e. ensuring that Singaporeans are fed, that no one has to beg for a living, no left is left homeless, every child gets to have the opportunity to go to school, so on and so forth?

LHL : Your honour, this is not the place to read a political manifesto.

CSC : I’m asking you as the leader of the country, just try to answer yes or no. Don’t try to avoid the question.

Singh : Can I know, your honour, the relevance of the question?

CSC : It goes into assessing Mr Lee’s claim for damages because if he says that he’s done –

Singh : Your –

CSC : Wait, sit down, I’ve not finished. He is going to say that he’s worth so much and so much because of what he’s done for the country. And so this question is very relevant when it comes to assessing the quantum of damages that he will be demanding for.

Singh : It’s not relevant, your honour, because it goes to specific instances. As your honour knows from the decision in Latle and Spittle (spelling?) which went all the way to the House of Lords, you can give evidence of general reputation, good or bad, but you cannot go into specific instances.

CSC : Are you allowing the question?

Judge : Sustained. Disallowed.

CSC : Mr Lee, you had said in your testimony yesterday that the responsibility of the Prime Minister is to know the pulse of the people in the country, and if they are unhappy. Do you agree?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : And do you feel that you can feel that pulse?

LHL : I try my best.

CSC : What do you think that pulse tells you?

Singh : Relevance, your honour?

Judge : Explain yourself, Miss Chee.

CSC : Your honour, as the Prime Minister who says that –

Judge : The relevance of your question to the assessment of damages.

CSC : It is important to know the pulse of the people. It goes to show whether or not he knows what is happening on the ground –

Judge : Miss –

CSC : And that he is fulfilling his job, his duty, as the Prime Minister. I don’t see how this is irrelevant when it comes to assessing his character, his merits, his competence, as the Prime Minister?

Singh : Your honour, the people of Singapore have already voted the government in with an overwhelming majority. While it would be interesting to have a discussion with Miss Chee on these issues, the question ultimately is how does it go into the question of assessment of damages?

Judge : Question is disallowed.

CSC : As the Prime Minister, as the leader of the country, do you know, can you feel it when you come up with policies and people, citizens are unhappy with these policies –

Judge : Miss Chee, move on.

CSC : I’m moving on. I’ve just asked another question – what’s the irrelevance, what’s the shaking of your head mean? You said that a nod doesn’t mean affirmative in chambers –

Judge : Irrelevant.

CSC : Now you shake your head, I need to know to ask you –

Judge : I’ve just answered you. Move on.

CSC : Thank you. Mr Lee, have you been to food centres to eat?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : Have you seen old, blind, crippled people selling tissue paper. Have to ever been to public toilets where you see the elderly washing the toilets. In the food centres, do you see people in their 60s, 70s, bent over, collecting dishes to eke out a living? Do you see all that?

Singh : Your honour, apart from demonstrating that in Singapore, old people have the dignity of employment, that question is irrelevant to this court.

CSC : Dignity of employment?

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : When you are in your 70s, when you are bent over, when you have to work because the government does not take care of you? Dignity?

Judge : Miss Chee –

CSC : You’ve given a whole new meaning to the word “dignity”, Mr Singh.

Judge : This is not the forum for those sort of questions –

CSC : Perhaps you could create your own Oxford, or –

Judge : Miss Chee –

CSC : Davindar Singh’s dictionary. Have you ever taken rides in MRTs, public transport like buses, SMRT, SBS Transit buses, Mr Lee?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : Do you know what it’s like for Singaporeans to squeeze like sardines, smell each other’s breath in MRTs and have to wait, sometimes for a half hour, for the bus to arrive?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : Do you know what it feels like? (Pause) You’ve read, I’m sure you have, that Singaporeans go across the causeway to buy medicine despite the promise of health care not being denied to every Singaporean, that many Singaporeans find it unaffordable, or too expensive, to get medical health-care treatment in Singapore?

Written script credit: with appreciation to Martyn See at

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