Harassment continues as yet another trial takes place for CSJ

January 3, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Barely is the New Year underway that the Government has already started cranking up its machinery to continue its harassment of the Republic’s democrats.

Dr Chee Soon Juan’s trial for attempting to leave Singapore without permission will begin on 3 Jan 06. The matter involves Dr Chee needing to travel to Istanbul, Turkey on 1 April 2006 to attend the 4th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy (WMD).

The SDP Secretary-General had earlier submitted an application to the Official Assignee’s (OA) office for the travel. As he was made a bankrupt after he failed to pay Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong in a defamation suit in 2001, Dr Chee needs to apply for permission every time he wants to travel overseas.

Following his application, the OA’s office emailed and said:

“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.” (See exchange of emails below)

Dr Chee duly submitted the Statement. However, the OA’s office now changed tack and said:

“Please let us know how much you will contribute monthly…only after you undertake to do so, we will consider your application to travel.”

Instead of determining how much Dr Chee had to pay Mr Lee and Mr Goh like it said it would in its first email, the OA now said that he needed to say how much he was going to pay the two former prime ministers and multi-millionaires every month before it would consider the application.

Dr Chee had however indicated on more than one occasion that he made insufficient income to do so.

Email correspondence carried on until 31 Mar 06, one day before Dr Chee’s scheduled departure. In the meantime, the air-ticket needed to be issued on 29 Apr 06.

With the ticket already purchased, Dr Chee wrote one final email on 31 Mar 06 to the OA’s office explaining why he could not afford to pay Mr Lee and Mr Goh. He then made his way to the airport on 1 Apr 06 on the chance that his application may yet be granted.

At the airport, however, he was stopped at the immigrations counter and prevented from continuing his journey. His passport was seized and to this day, it continues to be held by the authorities.

Since then, Dr Chee has made eight other applications to travel overseas to attend democracy conferences, all of which have been turned down by the Government. The SDP leader uses these occasions to garner support from the international community for democracy in Singapore.

The authorities have little reason to stop the SDP leader from traveling. First, the conference organisers always undertake to pay all of Dr Chee’s travel expenses. Second, Dr Chee has repeatedly indicated that he has no intention of leaving Singapore and not returning.

It seems clear that this latest charge is part of the continuing harassment of Dr Chee and a violation of his right to travel overseas. This has effectively placed him under city-arrest.

Dr Chee just completed a three-and-a-half week prison sentence in Nov 06 for speaking in public. There are seven more such charges against him for speaking in public, the dates of the trial will be determined at a pre-trial conference on 4 Jan 07.

The present trial is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am on 3 Jan 07 in Subordinate Court 5.

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 breakdowwn 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