Immigration admits that CSJ could only find out at the airport whether he was allowed to leave

February 1, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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At the close of the Prosecution’s case, defence counsel rose to submit that there was no case to answer.

This was because Dr Chee Soon Juan, who is charged with attempting to leave the country without trial, never left the country. The SDP leader had applied to leave for Turkey to attend a conference of the World Movement for Democracy in Mar 06.

All bankrupts are required to apply for overseas travel. Dr Chee was declared bankrupt by the courts after he failed to pay Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok $500,000 in damages following a lawsuit the two former prime ministers took against him in 2001.

Dr Chee’s lawyer, Mr Alfred Dodwell, cited the fact that the Official Assignee’s (OA) office was, until the day that Dr Chee was supposed to leave for Turkey, still considering his application.

The rejection of the application was, however, inexplicably made only on 13 Apr 06 – two weeks after Dr Chee was supposed travel on 1 Apr.

So how could Dr Chee know the status of his application before he traveled? He couldn’t.

As mentioned the OA’s office still had not made up its mind on whether to approve Dr Chee’s application to go to Turkey.

In addition, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) could not let him know of his travel status.

“Could Dr Chee have called your office to find out if permission had been given for him to travel?” enquired Mr Dodwell during cross-examination of ICA officer Mr Nah Wee Kiong.

“No,” Mr Nah replied. “We could not have told him his status.”

“So it was only when Dr Chee presented his passport could he have found out his status?” Mr Dodwell asked.

“Yes,” Mr Nah answered.

Let’s see…Dr Chee made an application to leave Singapore on 1 Apr. The OA’s office was still considering his application on the day of his departure. The ICA says that Dr Chee could not find out the status of his application unless he presented his passport at the airport.

When Dr Chee did, he was prosecuted. Is this brilliant or what?

By the way, the judge ruled that the Prosecution had made out a case that the Defence had to answer to.

Due to court scheduling, the hearing resumes only on 5 Feb 07, Mon at 10 am.