Chee Soon Juan’s closing submissions (Part I)

October 6, 2002
Singapore Democrats

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Below are excerpts of Dr Chee Soon Juan closing submissions which he made at the conclusion of his trial. He is charged for wilfull trespass and speaking with a permit when he tried to hold a rally on Labour Day (May 1, 2002) outside the Istana. Part II will be posted shortly.

In the other trials in which I was involved, and where Mr Bala Reddy was also the prosecutor, the police had readily used their videotapes as evidence. So when they didnt play their tapes in this case, it roused my suspicion.

Why this was so became clear as the police witnesses took the stand and said what they said which was in complete contrast to the events that had taken place outside the Istana on May 1, 2002.

I will show that their evidence contradicted each other almost in a comical fashion and as you will see, Your Honour, is indubitably refuted by visual evidence from even their own video-tape. I will also relate the reasons, or rather the factors, why they had to stoop to such a level to make their case.

Let me first address the facts, or rather the artifacts, of the case as presented by the police witnesses. I will do this under five categories:

I. Who ordered the arrest?

When it was put to DSP Lim that it was ASP Teo Chun Ching who ordered the arrest of both accused, Lim replied: I ordered the arrest of Chee and the arrest of the second accused was done by Teo. In his testimony, ASP Teo also said that DSP Lim directed officers to arrest the first accused, which was me.

Nowhere in the transcripts, however, showed DSP Lim ordering the arrest. Even the polices audiotape transcript of the event, taped by Insp. Abdul Rani, does not show DSP Lim ordering my arrest.

This incident is even more bizarre when you consider the fact that ASP Teo gave evidence that when DSP Lim was warning me to leave, he (ASP Teo) was two to four metres behind Lim and that he could hear his boss directing officers to arrest me. Yet Abdul Rani, who was standing right behind me, did not have this recorded.

There are two possible conclusions from this: One, DSP Lim and ASP Teo were trying to cover up their own ineptness. Two, Insp. Abdul Ranis tape-recorder and our video-recorder had both momentarily malfunctioned at the same precise moment that DSP Lim uttered the words of my arrest. What is the possibility of the latter happening?

II. Did anyone tell them?

When it was put to DSP Lim when he told Gandhi and I about our charges, Lim said: They were told in the lock-up of the charges. I have, on oath, said that no one had told us of the charges the entire time we were in the lock-up and the prosecution has not disputed that fact.

And because I knew this for a fact, I pressed DSP Lim to reveal who it was that told us the charges. He replied that one of his officers had told us. I pressed him further and he finally admitted that he did not know for a fact that Gandhi and I were told of our charges when we were in the lock-up and had simply assumed that one of his men had done so.

I am not so concerned with the fact that no one had informed us of the charges as I am of the fact that Lim, a senior police officer holding the rank of DSP, would not forthrightly tell the court that he did not tell us of our charges or that he wasnt sure if any of his officers did or not, but that he would say that we were told in the lock-up and then subsequently recant when he was finally cornered.

III. Commander of division didnt know

Under cross-examination, DSP Lim told the court that he only came to know about the rally the day before. This is despite the fact that:

1. I had made an application to the Public Entertainments Licensing Unit (PELU) to hold a rally on May 1, 2002 outside the Istana and issued a media release about it, which were reported by the media.

2. The PELU had rejected my application which was also reported by the media.

3. I had said that the rally would go on despite the rejection of my application. All this took place in the public arena (media).

4. The Istana was a major venue located within his jurisdiction.

The weirdest part of all this is that his subordinates, ASP Teo and SSSgt Douglas Yeo, testified that they both knew about the rally at least a few days before May 1, 2002. ASP Teo had even arranged for a briefing for officers on 30 April 2002, the day his boss learned of the matter. Is all this remotely believable? Are we talking about the Singapore Police Force or the Hollywood Keystone Cops?

In all seriousness, what relevance does DSP Lims ignorance have anything to do the case? Lim told the court that I was at the Istana to speak (he later changed it to give a rally) at 12 noon on May 1, 2002. The media release I issued on April 29, 2002, the day before Lim came to know of the event, stated clearly that the rally would begin only at 2 pm. He probably didnt know this too and therefore moved in to confront me when I arrived at 12:15 pm outside the Istana.

IV. Where was Douglas Yeo?

SSSgt Douglas Yeo testified that he was 8-10 m from me when I was talking to the crowd. He was actually right behind me as their videotape shows. In another shot he is seen walking away from the crowd.

V. The 30 to 50 miracle

All three officers, DSP Lim, ASP Teo, and SSSgt Yeo, testified that when I arrived at the scene, a crowd of 30 people surrounded me. After 2 minutes, the crowd swelled to 50.

It is incredible enough for all three men to independently come up with the exact same numbers (initial crowd of 30 increasing to 50) but it is even more fantastic when all three described exactly the same situation that there was a commotion within the crowd and, therefore, action had to be taken. This is despite the fact that all three stood at different distances and places from me: Teo was 2-4 m, Yeo was 8-10 m, and Lim right inside at the gates of the Istana.

ASP Teo said: It was a commotion, passers-by moved (in) to see what was going on, that is why I say (feel) it was a commotion. Let us view the tape again. It is clear that no passers-by had moved in and therefore, according to Teos definition of a commotion, there could have been no commotion. When asked if the crowd was noisy, Teo said no. No passers-by joined the crowd which was quiet, and yet there was a commotion.

In his next sentence, Teo reiterated: The size of the crowd also grew when the first accused was speaking. We have established from the visual evidence that the crowd didnt grow.

The question centres now on me speaking to the crowd. When pressed, ASP Teo revealed: There were questions posed to the first accusedhe was on and off. Is this called speaking to a crowd? The truth is that Teo saw reporters asking me questions and my answering them which accounts for my speaking on and off. Yet he could not bring himself to tell the truth but instead insisted that I was speaking to a crowd.

Maybe they were so observant that each one really saw a crowd of 30 swelling to 50 in 2 minutes. The problem is that the video-tape, their video-tape showed a crowd that could not have numbered to more than 20, and whose size remained static, that is, you could see that the number of people who surrounded me at the beginning were the same number of people at the point when DSP Lim stepped in to confront me.

The evidence that you see before on the videotape is a irrefutable as it is damning of the witnesses testimonies. It is not a matter of opinion or a case of the their word against ours. It is one that can be verified and has been verified right before your very eyes.

Let us now consider the question of the commotion that the three police officers had said had taken place. Again, taking a look at the video evidence, where is the commotion? Am I hallucinating or was everyone there just standing quietly listening, taking notes and photographs of me?

All three testified that I had spoken to the crowd even though none of them were close enough to hear who was going on. They couldnt hear that I was not giving a speech (because I was not scheduled to speak until 2 pm that afternoon) but merely answering some of the reporters, questions. The three witnesses couldnt even verify the identities of the people in the crowd and all, upon cross-examination, admitted that it is possible that they could have been journalists. In fact, they were all journalists save for the few who were police officers in plainclothes.

In and of themselves, these inconsistencies could have been honest mistakes and genuine misjudgments. But when you see them being repeated by three different officers in various instances, one can only that the only thing genuine about this entire sorry episode is the officers attempts to desperately try to paint a picture that I had, by my actions, created a volatile situation that had, in the words of DSP Lim, threatened law and order and that they could have caused a stampede and that they, therefore, had to do what they did. From the video, it is clear that all this could not have happened.

Watch out for Part II which will be posted shortly