Chee calls for hearing to be reconvened on IBA matter; press dead silent

Singapore Democrats

Dr Chee Soon Juan has written to the Supreme Court to ask for the assessment for damages hearing to be reconvened (see letter below). The hearing took place in May 08 in which Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong sued the Singapore Democrats for defamation.

During the hearing, Mr Lee testified that the International Bar Association (IBA) had written to the Law Society of Singapore (LSS) complimenting Singapore on “how successful the meeting was and how impressed they were by the standards they found to obtain in the judiciary.” (See here)

The Singapore Democrats have received information, however, that no such letter was written. Dr Chee wrote to Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s press secretary, Madam Yeong Yoon Ying, to produce a copy of the letter that Mr Lee claimed the IBA had written.

Madam Yeong has yet to respond. We hope that she will without further delay.

This matter is of utmost importance as the information was presented under oath by the Minister Mentor during cross-examination by Dr Chee. Mr Lee’s testimony will go towards the amount of damages to be awarded to him and his son.

The defendants wish to get to the bottom of the matter so that Judge Belinda Ang will have a clear picture of the incident.

The sound of silence

Meanwhile in the newsrooms, our press people all buat bodoh (feigning ignorance). Since the release of the information about the missing IBA letter, SPH has refused to report on the matter.

Usually at about this stage the press would kick into high gear. Calls would be placed to the IBA and the LSS to confirm the information. If one party was caught out, the entire matter would be splashed across the pages and the headline, analysis piece, followed by op-ed after op-ed would all crucify the guilty party. And you can be sure that no story would be run without an uncomplimentary photograph/caricature or two of the prey.

That is, if that party is the SDP. But in this case Mr Lee is the subject of the controversy. Hence the ear-splitting silence.

Note how the press managed to get a hold of Tunku Abdul Aziz of Transparency International-Malaysia and Dr Peter Eigen’s office at the Transparency International, in double quick time, over the award that Mr Aziz gave to Mr Lee.

But over this IBA incident none of our journalists seem interested to do a follow-up. Think about it. A simple call to the IBA would confirm whether Mr Lee was right or not. And it’s not like the LSS is in another time zone, its office is right smack in the middle of South Bridge Road.

Maybe they did call and found out something that they would rather not know.

But such is the kind of journalism that Singaporeans have had to live with for decades. It is not just a disservice to the public, it is a danger.

Letter to the Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Court 4B: Judge Belinda Ang

Re: Suit Nos. 261 & 262 of 2006

Dear Sir,

I would like to apply for the hearing in the above matter to be reconvened. This is because one of the plaintiffs, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has given evidence that may not be accurate.

Specifically, Mr Lee testified under oath that there was a letter written by the president of the International Bar Association (IBA) to the Law Society of Singapore (LSS) praising the Judiciary. The IBA has denied that they had sent such a letter and has also confirmed that the LSS has not received any such letter.

As Mr Lee’s evidence has great impact on the determination of the amount of damages to be awarded, it is imperative that the hearing be reconvened so that parties can get to the bottom of the matter.

Thank you.


Chee Soon Juan


Mr Davinder Singh
Drew & Napier