Chee writes to CJ over shocking incident

September 17, 2004
Singapore Democrats

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16 September 2004

Mr Yong Pung How
Chief Justice
Republic of Singapore

Dear Sir,

Re: S 1459/2001/F Lee Kuan Yew v Chee Soon Juan
S 1460/2001/X Goh Chok Tong v Chee Soon Juan

You may be aware that the courts have decided to reject my request for the hearing dates for the assessment of damages for the above cases on 6-8 September 2004 to be postponed. The hearing took place in my absence as I returned to Singapore only on 14 September 2004.

You can therefore imagine my shock when I was going through my mail today (which had accumulated through the months I have been away) and saw a request to the courts from Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong on 14 July 2004 to bring the hearing forward to 26-27 August because they would be engaged in official matters during the period of 6-8 September.

On 16 July, the Registrar replied to inform the parties to attend court on 26 July 2004 to confirm the new dates for assessment. The plaintiffs subsequently withdrew their requests because they had managed to re-schedule their official appointments and were available again to go ahead with the hearing on 6-8 September.

What is of significance is the courts readiness to accommodate Messrs Lee Kuan Yews and Goh Chok Tongs requests to re-schedule the hearing. Worse, the Registrar set 26 July for parties to confirm the new dates selected by the plaintiffs. Given the fact that I had informed the courts that I would not be in Singapore until after August 2004, why did the Registrar fix a session on July 26?

If the plaintiffs had not withdrawn their requests, their lawyer would have met the Registrar on 26 July and confirmed the new hearing dates on 26-27 August all this in my absence. Is this how matters and dates are decided upon, by one party?

I would like to point out that this had taken place amidst the plaintiffs strenuous objections to my request for the hearing dates of 6-8 September to be postponed. For the two former prime ministers to do what they did is to be expected. But for the courts to acquiesce to the plaintiffs request and then reject mine is disturbingly inappropriate. In light of what has taken place, can you assure me of the courts impartiality in its dealings in this matter?

Given the circumstances and in the interest of ensuring that the judiciary accords me all the rights of a fair hearing, I would like to ask that the hearing for assessment be reconvened and that I be allowed to call Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong to the stand for cross-examination.

I look forward to your speedy response.

Sincerely,

Chee Soon Juan
Defendant

cc:

Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Mr Goh Chok Tong
Mr J B Jeyaretnam
Mr Francis Seow
Mr Tang Liang Hong
Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia
Asian Human Rights Commission
Amnesty International
Council for Asian Liberals and Democrats
Forum-Asia
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
Lawyers Watch Canada
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Liberal International
Parliamentarians for Global Action
US State Department
World Movement for Democracy