Justice in the blink of an eye

September 6, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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The account below was sent to the SDP by an observer from the public gallery.

Justice Choo Han TeckIn the blink of an eye, it was all over. Before the verdict could sink in among those present, Justice Choo Han Teck was up on his feet and paced away quickly into the recess leading to his private chamber.

The fast-track decision by Justice Choo on Tuesday 4 Sept baffled almost everyone who turned up to watch the appeal hearing of Dr Chee Soon Juan against his earlier conviction and sentence by a lower court. On 26 Feb 2007, Dr Chee, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party was found guilty by a district court for trying to leave the country while a bankrupt.

On 1st April 2006, Chee was stopped at Changi Airport by immigration officials and his passport confiscated for attempting to leave for the World Forum for Democracy conference in Turkey.

In February 2006 Dr Chee was made a bankrupt after failing to pay $500,000 in damages to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong for defaming the two PAP leaders over remarks he made during the general elections in 2001.

Minutes before his quick ruling on the appeal, Dr Chee through his counsel Mr Alfred Dodwell had requested for a five-minute adjournment. But Justice Choo simply told the counsel to proceed. Since it was past 12.15 pm, everyone thought that the hearing would be adjourned until after lunch, making it unnecessary for the short adjournment requested.

But it was not to be so.

When everybody expected Justice Choo to adjourn for lunch, he sprang the surprise of upholding the fine of $4,000 imposed by the district court, and then got up and walked away, leaving a sense of shock in his Court Number 6C.

Immediately uniformed court bailiffs surrounded Dr Chee, ready to haul him up to carry out Justice Choo’s orders.

Indeed, justice is fast and swift in uniquely Singapore.