Courtroom snippets

Singapore Democrats

We bring you another segment of Courtroom Snippets where we highlight incidents that are not always filled with dour legalese. In fact some of them are downright hilarious. Unfortunately, our men-in-blue may not always agree.

Tres bien, officer

During cross-examination in the TBT trial, licensing officer SI Yeo Kok Leong was asked a question about a certain police procedure.

The witness turned to the judge and said. “Your Honour, I am not offay with the procedure.”

“What? What was that?” the defendants murmured, “Your Honour, what was that again?”

Aufit, a-u-f-i-t,” replied the judge. “It means ‘not familiar with’.”

Wow, we’re into French now.

After lunch one of the defendants, Mr Carl Lang, who was cross-examining SI Yeo, greeted the witness: “Bonjour, Monsieur Yeo, comment allez-vous?” (Hello, how are you?)

There was a hint of a scowl on the officer’s face – he was not amused.

Good morning, Mr Yeo

Perhaps it was not the language that Mr Yeo objected to. Ms Chee Siok Chin greets all the prosecution witnesses with a polite “Good morning.”

When it was her turn to cross-examine the witness, Ms Chee said: “Good morning, Mr Yeo.” Thinking that he was the mortal enemy of the SDP leader, the officer looked away and didn’t bother to return the greeting.

Ms Chee didn’t give up. “I said good morning, Mr Yeo.”

The courtroom let out an audible chuckle — and it didn’t come only from the defendants.

Ms Chee waited for a response. When the silence dragged on and became a little too awkward, SI Yeo reluctantly returned: “Good morning.”

“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” said Ms Chee, the teacher in her coming to the fore.

The hum blunder

Mohd HassanWitness Mr Mohd Hassan admitted that Mr Lee Hsien Loong had committed “a blunder” when the PM uttered those now legendary words mee siam mai hum: “Mr Gandhi was making references [during the WB-IMF protest] to that incident to show that the PM doesn’t know the ground…”

“Explain why reference to mee siam means the PM doesn’t know his ground,” DPP Ms Noor asked. 

“That’s just my opinion,” explained Mr Hassan.

Trying to further control the damage, Ms Noor asked: “What do you mean by ‘a blunder’?”

“Everyone knows that mee siam doesn’t have hum. Perhaps he was referring to laksa,” said the officer.

“But why ‘blunder’? I specifically asked you to explain why the reference to it as a blunder,” the DPP persisted.

“I guess it was suppose to be mee siam mai hiam, mee siam without chilli. But I guess mee siam mai hum referred to miee siam without cockles. I’m not famiilar with Hokkien.”

Sensing she wasn’t getting anywhere, Ms Noor dropped the question. (How all this is relevant to the trial is anybody’s guess.)

PS: The witness testified later that the ridicule of the PM was all over the Internet. “It was even made into a rap ditty,” Mr Hassan pointed out.

That good-looking guy

Teo Tian JingWhilst on the stand, DSP Mohd Hassan was asked how he had identified the defendants during the WB-IMF protest at Hong Lim Park on 16 Sep 06.

The officer told the court that he had recognised Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, and Ms Chee Siok Chin.

When he came to Mr Teo Tian Jing, he said that he had turned to his colleague and asked: “Who’s that good-looking guy?”

“Objection!” the other defendants were on the verge of protesting. “Is the witness implying that the rest of the defendants are not good-looking?” For fear of getting a reply in the affirmative, they held their counsel.

Mr Teo has yet to cross-examine the witness. Let’s see if sparks fly.