Chee charged for attempting to leave S’pore without permission

October 9, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Dr Chee Soon Juan was charged today for attempting to leave Singapore in April 2006 without permission from the Official Assignee. He had his passport seized at the airport when he was scheduled to attend the 4th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) in Istanbul, Turkey.

Dr Chee was made a bankrupt after he couldn’t pay the damages of $500,000 that was awarded to Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong in their defamation suits.

Because of this, the Official Assignee’s (OA) office has refused to allow the SDP secretary-general to travel overseas.

The OA has repeatedly rejected Dr Chee’s applications to attend conferences overseas even though in every case, the organisers undertook to pay for Dr Chee’s expenses in full (see box on left).

The latest occasion is the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy organised by the Qatar Government in Doha, Qatar from 29 Oct-1 Nov 06 and supported by the United Nations.

Towards the end of March 2006, Dr Chee applied to attend the WMD conference. The OA wanted Dr Chee to submit a breakdown of his monthly income and expenditure so that it could determine how much Dr Chee would have to pay the PAP leaders. It promised that if Dr Chee undertook to do so, the OA would consider his travel application (see exchanges of emails below).

But when Dr Chee complied, the OA then shifted its position and asked him to make a proposal to pay Mr Lee and Mr Goh before it would consider his travel application.

The exchange of emails continued until the day of Dr Chee’s scheduled departure during which the air-ticket had to be purchased. Not having received a reply from the OA, Dr Chee made his way to the airport during which his passport was impounded.

The OA then proceeded to charge the SDP leader that he “did attempt to leave Singapore, on or about the 1st day of April 2006, without the previous permission of the Official assignee and have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 131(2) of the Bankruptcy Act (Chapter 20) read with Section 511 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224).”

In another case, Dr Chee is charged with Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Mr Yap Keng Ho for speaking in public without a permit. The trial is set for 25 Oct 06.

1. Email from OA to Dr Chee on 28 Mar 06

Dear Dr Chee,

BANKRUPTCY NO.38 OF 2006

We refer to your application to travel submitted on 20/3/06 and to your attendance at our office this morning.

2 When we queried you on your average monthly income, you informed us that we cannot ask you about your income over the counter as you need time to recall how much you earned and that you wanted us to write to you requesting the said information. You also told us not to “act cute” when we explained to you that as your trustee in bankruptcy, the Official Assignee has the right to query you on your affairs as and when necessary. However, you told us that every request for information that the Official Assignee makes regarding your affairs has to be written down in “black and white”.

3 Enclosed herewith is the Income & Expenditure Statement for the period 10/2/06 -28/3/06 for your completion. Please let us have the completed Statement by 30/3/06. We will examine your Income & Expenditure Statement and thereafter determine the monthly instalment you are required to contribute for the benefit of your creditors. Once you undertake to do so, the Official Assignee will consider your application to travel.

Yours faithfully
MS KALASELVI RENGASAMY
MANAGER, INDIVIDUAL INSOLVENCY DIVISION
For OFFICIAL ASSIGNEE

2. Dr Chee submits the Income & Expenditure Statement on 30 Mar 06

3. Email from OA to Dr Chee on 31 Mar 06

Dear Dr Chee,

BANKRUPTCY NO. 38 OF 2006

We refer to your Income & Expenditure Statement which you submitted on 30/3/06.

2 We note that you have disclosed that your present income is insufficient to pay for your expenses. We would strongly advise you to be gainfully employed so that you can contribute monthly instalment payments for the benefit of your creditors.

3 We would also like you to clarify what you mean by “savings” which you have disclosed in Part (II) of your Income & Expenditure Statement.

4 We note that you have not made any proposal on your monthly instalment payments for the benefit of your creditors. Please let us know how much you will contribute monthly. As we mentioned in our earlier e-mail, only after you undertake to do so, we will consider your application to travel.

Yours faithfully

MS KALASELVI RENGASAMY
MANAGER, INDIVIDUAL INSOLVENCY DIVISION
For OFFICIAL ASSIGNEE

4. Email from Dr Chee to OA on 31 Mar 06

Dear Ms Kalaselvi Rengasamy,

This is what you stated in your previous email: “Enclosed herewith is the Income & Expenditure Statement for the period 10/2/06-28/3/06 for your completion. Please let us have the completed Statement by 30/3/06. We will examine your Income & Expenditure Statement and thereafter determine the monthly instalment you are required to contribute for the benefit of your creditors. Once you undertake to do so, the Official Assignee will consider your application to travel.”

I have complied with your request and submitted the Income & Expenditure Statement. Now you say: “We note that you have not made any proposal on your monthly instalment payments for the benefit of your creditors. Please let us know how much you will contribute monthly. As we mentioned in our earlier e-mail, only after you undertake to do so, we will consider your application to travel.”

I have given the breakdown of my expenses and my income in my statement. You can see clearly from the figures that I do not have enough funds to make monthly payments to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong. This is why I am unable, as I have stated repeatedly, to make any proposal for monthly payments.

Sincerely,
CHEE SOON JUAN