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High Court Judge Belinda Ang has ordered the Singapore Democrats to pay Mr Lee Kuan Yew $280,000 and Mr Lee Hsien Loong $330,000 in damages.
The Lees sued the SDP and its executive members in 2006 over an article published in the party’s newspaper The New Democrat which discussed the NKF scandal and the Government’s handling of the matter.
Ministers Khaw Boon Wan and Lim Hng Kiang had praised NKF despite warning flags being repeatedly raised about the operations handled by Mr T T Durai and his staff members. Mr Durai and his Chariman, Mr Richard Yong, were subsequently convicted of various criminal offences.
Judge Ang had awarded the case to the Lees in a summary judgment that meant that the defendants could not bring the matter to an open trial. This left the Lees to proceed to assessing the amount of damages to be paid to them.
At this hearing, the defendants comprising of the party, Dr Chee Soon Juan, and Ms Chee Siok Chin (the rest of the executive members apologised and did not contest the case) pressed the point that the Lees were not worth the damages they claimed because their reputations were forced upon society through dictatorial means. (Click here to read and listen to exchanges between the Lees and the defendants.)
During the hearing, the Lees wanted the cross-examination to be limited to two hours each even though three days had been set aside. Judge Ang agreed.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew also wanted the hearing to go on through the lunch hour. Again Judge Ang agreed. Mr Lee also had an entourage of bodyguards who accompanied him into the courtroom which Judge Ang allowed.
The defendants protested against these decisions. Judge Ang held the defendants in contempt of court and sent Dr Chee and Ms Chee to prison for 12 and 10 days respectively.
Incidentally, Mr Gopalan Nair is currently serving a three-month prison sentence when he was found guilty by another High Court Judge , Mr Kan Ting Chiu, for insulting Judge Ang.
In a letter to the defendants sent today, the Supreme Court informed the defendants that they could collect the judgment at a cost of $385. The SDP has not collected the judgment but has learnt that the amounts awarded total $610,000.
Dr Chee has already been made a bankrupt from a previous lawsuit taken by Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. He was also sued in 1993 by PAP MP Dr S Vasoo and two other university officials after he was dismissed from the National University of Singapore where he lectured.
Ms Chee Siok Chin was also made bankrupt after she was unable to meet payments demanded by the AG’s Chambers over a case which she and other activists took against the Minister for Home Affairs and Police Commissioner over a protest in 2005.
The police threatened to arrest the protesters even though there were only four of them. The law says that only five or more persons constituted an illegal assembly.
The Lees will now have to apply for a bankruptcy petition against the defendants and can then make SDP bankrupt and de-register the party.
The Singapore Democrats stand firm in our conviction to continue to speak up for Singaporeans no matter what happens. The punitive actions taken by the PAP cannot deter us from our cause to bring democracy and justice to our nation.