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The law suits that Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok have brought against Dr Chee Soon Juan over the US$10 billion loan may not go to trial. This is because both Lee and Goh have successfully obtained summary judgment against him.
The judgment, awarded by Senior Assistant Registrar Toh Han Li, means that the case will not go to trial even though Dr Chee has repeatedly argued that there are contestable and triable issues to be proved in a court of law.
Under legal principles no summary judgment may be entered if there are issues to be tried. Dr Chee will be making this argument to High Court Judge MPH Rubin during the appeal hearing on Friday, 7 February 2003.
“All I want is for the case to go to a full and open trial when I can cross-examine both Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong over the grave matter of the Indonesian loan,” Dr Chee said.
The plaintiffs are suing the SDP secretary-general for defaming them over this issue during the last general election.
“If the case is stopped at the summary judgment level,” Dr Chee added, “I will not be able to question the plaintiffs and Singaporeans cannot hear for themselves what Lee and Goh have to say about such a serious matter in response to my questions.”
Dr Chee emphasized that Singaporeans should sit up and take note of the case as it involves the matter of their savings.
The situation is of such gravity that two international lawyers’ groups, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (US) and Lawyers Human Rights Watch Canada, have written a letter to SM Lee, PM Goh and Chief Justice Yong Pung How to express their unhappiness and doubts over the matter (see letter on this website). The groups are also sending their observers to attend the appeal hearing on 7 February.
Among the concerns that both NGOs have is the fact that the Courts have turned down Dr Chee’s application for a Queens Counsel whereas the plaintiffs have a Senior Counsel (Singapore’s equivalent of the Queens Counsel) to represent them.
Singaporean lawyers are reluctant to represent opposition politicians especially when the plaintiffs are leaders of the ruling PAP.
“Its ridiculous when I have to argue the law with Mr Davinder Singh who is an experienced lawyer in defamation. How would he like to have a discussion with me on theories regarding neurological functions?” Dr Chee noted. “Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. At the moment things are looking decidedly lopsided. I just want to be represented in court. Is that too much to ask?”
If Dr Chee loses the appeal, costs and damages will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which will then force him into bankruptcy and bar him from future elections.