Chee’s bankruptcy clearance widely reported

Singapore Democrats

News about Dr Chee Soon Juan’s bankruptcy annulment has been picked by the media in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, the UK and even places like Maine, Minneapolis and Indiana in the US.$CUT$

Below is a report filed by the AP carried in The Edmonton Journal in Canada:

S’pore opposition leader Chee freedfrom bankruptcy in possible government election strategy
Faris Mokhtar
Associated Press
12 November 2012

Prominent Singapore opposition leaderChee Soon Juan has been discharged from bankruptcy, the governmentsaid Wednesday, after an unprecedented concession by two former primeministers to whom he owed about $408,000. Ex-prime ministers Lee KuanYew and Goh Chok Tong agreed to accept a reduced amount of 30,000Singapore dollars ($24,500) from Chee, which will free him frombankruptcy proceedings formally on Friday, said a statement by theInsolvency and Public Trustee’s Office.

Chee, the firebrand leader of theSingapore Democratic Party, was declared a bankrupt in 2006 after hefailed to pay S$500,000 in court-ordered damages to Lee and Goh. Thetwo had sued him for defamation for comments he made against themduring the 2001 general elections.

The development means Chee, 50, will beable to travel outside the country freely and also contest the nextelections, which are due in 2016. Still, some commentators saw theconcession by Lee and Goh as a political manoeuvre — allowing Cheeto contest the elections could split the fragmented opposition’svotes further at a time the ruling People Action Party itself haslost much popular support because of rising prices and an influx offoreigners.

“It could be that Lee Kuan Yew hasmellowed, but it’s hard to believe that he has changed because itdoesn’t fit his character,” said respected political commentatorand former newspaper editor P.N. Balji.

“The other possibility, todischarge Chee from bankrupt, could be to ‘muddy the waters’especially for the coming general elections. Chee’s party and the(other opposition) Workers’ Party do not see eye to eye and theremight be a split in votes for the opposition,” Balji told theAssociated Press.

Lee, modern Singapore’s foundingfather, and Goh have frequently and successfully sued oppositionleaders and other critics for defamation. A report published by theHuman Rights Watch in January criticised the country for resorting tocharges of contempt of court, criminal and civil defamation as wellas sedition to rein in its critics. Among those sued are publicationssuch as The Economist, the International Herald Tribune and FarEastern Economic Review.

Lee was Singapore’s prime minister from1959 to 1990, when he handed over power to Goh. Lee continued to workfor the government, first as “senior minister,” anon-executive advisory post specially created for him, and from 2004until 2011 as “minister mentor.” Goh was prime ministerfrom 1990 to 2004, when the prime ministership went to Lee’s son, LeeHsien Loong.

Chee, a trained neuropsychologist,raised the S$30,000 primarily through donations and proceeds from thesale of his books on politics. He was informed in September that bothLee and Goh were willing to accept the reduced amount.

“As the creditors have notobjected to Dr. Chee’s debt settlement proposal, it is deemed thatthey have accepted the proposal, as provided for under the BankruptcyAct,” the statement from the Insolvency and Public Trustee’sOffice said.

As a bankrupt, Chee was required toseek government’s permission to travel. Earlier this year his requestto attend the Oslo Freedom Forum — a conference on human rightswhere Chee was scheduled to be a guest speaker — was denied.

“The important thing (is that)being discharged from bankruptcy means it will allow me to plan andlead the party into the next general election,” Chee told theAP.

“The big strategy that we’rebanking on right now is to come up with shadow policies on healthcareand housing as alternatives to that of the government. The PAP isfloundering in these policies and in taking the country forward.”

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