CSJ demands fairness over lawsuit

September 24, 2004
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

Below is the letter that Dr Chee wrote to the Registrar of the Supreme Court where he further points out the disturbing series of events that question the impartiality of the courts in dealing with the lawsuits that the MM and SM have brought against him.

23 September

The Registrar
Supreme Court
Singapore

Dear Sir,

S 1459/2001/F LEE KUAN YEW V. CHEE SOON JUAN
and
S 1460/2001/X GOH CHOK TONG V. CHEE SOON JUAN

You explained in your reply dated 21 September 2004 that the Registry did not accede to the plaintiffs request for the dates of the hearing for assessment of damages to be moved forward.

This point is moot because the plaintiffs had withdrawn their request. Even then it remains a mystery why you called for the parties to attend court on 26 July 2004 when you had full knowledge that I was away (I had written to you in January this year to tell you so) and would not return to Singapore until August 2004.

Did you really expect me to fly all the way from the US back to Singapore to attend the hearing on 26 July 2004 so that the Registry could hear all parties on the request? If I could do that, we might as well have conducted the actual hearing for the assessment, might we not?

Let me also point out that in your letter to me dated 16 July 2004, you wrote that the parties were to attend court to confirm not consider the new dates. If the hearing was just to confirm the new dates picked by the plaintiffs, why bother to ask me to be present?

Knowing that I was away, was it so difficult for you to inform the plaintiffs to wait for me to return to Singapore and then call the parties to come together to agree to another date? Why the anxiety to bring the whole process forward as the plaintiffs had requested?

Now contrast this to my request. Yes, you had asked for the parties to attend court on 2 September 2004 to hear my application to postpone the September-hearing dates. But then Mr Lee and Mr Goh strenuously objected to my request and you quickly wrote to me to say that my application had been rejected and that the hearing on 6-8 September would proceed as fixed. Two questions scream to be answered:

1. Why did you agree to hear my request and then change your mind so quickly when the plaintiffs objected without hearing me first? This is in contrast to the fact that you were willing to hear the plaintiffs request even in my absence.
2. Why did you not tell the plaintiffs, as you had told me, that no re-scheduling was permitted and the original dates for the hearing for assessment would proceed as fixed?

This is not a trivial matter. It runs right to the heart of my case and to the question of whether I have received, and will receive, impartial treatment and consideration from the judiciary in the above matters. I stand to pay enormous damages to the plaintiffs that will, to put it extremely mildly, have a tremendous impact upon my life and my familys well-being. I am sure you understand my concerns and I hope you will address them without further equivocation. The non-answers that you gave in your reply are completely unsatisfactory.

I want, and I am entitled, under the Constitution, to be treated equally and fairly by the courts regardless of the fact that my opponents are Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong.

Sincerely,

Chee Soon Juan
Defendant

cc

The Chief Justice
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
Australian High Commission
Belgian Embassy
British High Commission
Canadia Embassy
French Embassy
Swedish Embassy
US Embassy

For the sake of clarity for our readers, below is the sequence of events of the matter:

1. The dates of the hearing for assessment of damages were fixed for 6-8 September 2004 because Dr Chee Soon Juan had informed the courts in January 2004 that he was going to be away until August.

2. Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong request in July for the hearing dates to be brought forward to 26-27 August 2004 because they had to tend to official matters.

3. The Registrar calls for the parties to meet on 26 July 2004 to confirm the new dates. Reminder: Dr Chee had already informed the courts that he would be back only after August. (The plaintiffs later write to withdraw their request because the managed to re-schedule their appointments.)

4. In August, Dr Chee writes to the Registrar to request for the hearing for assessment of damages to be postponed.

5. The courts call for the parties to meet on 2 September 2004 to consider Dr Chees request.

6. Mr Lee and Mr Goh object to this and the courts immediately write to Dr Chee to inform him that his request had been rejected.

7. To add insult to injury, the Registry tells Dr Chee that even if the dates of the hearing on 6-8 September will not be changed, the session on 2 September to consider Dr Chees request will go on. Huh?