Lee Hsien Loong to take stand first

May 11, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be the first of the plaintiffs’ witnesses to take the stand when the hearing to assess damages begins on Monday.

He and his father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, are suing the Singapore Democrats for defamation over an article published in The New Democrat in 2006 comparing the running of NKF with the PAP’s rule over the country.

But the PM is not expected to come to court until the afternoon. The morning will be put aside to hear an application that the Lees have taken to strike out the Affidavit Evidence-in-Chief (AEIC) of the defendants.

The AEICs lay out the case that the Lees have inflated their claims about their reputations by controlling the media, crushing any dissent, and manipulating elections. (Read full AEIC here.)

The defence have also provided evidence that the reputations of the plantiffs are not quite so sterling in communities not within the control of the PAP such as those living in other countries as well as on the Internet.

One such person is former solicitor-general Mr Francis Seow who has also filed an AEIC supporting the SDP’s case.

Mr Seow states that he was detained by the Internal Security Department (ISD) on the orders of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. While under detention, he was threatened by ISD officers to not stand for elections as an opposition candidate.

Mr Seow also makes the case that if he, as solicitor-general which is the second highest position in the legal service of the country, can be treated in such a manner by Mr Lee, what more the ordinary citizen. (Read Francis Seow’s full AEIC here.)

The plaintiffs want the defence AEICs struck out and the records therein expunged. Mr Lee Kuan Yew tried to do the same thing in his lawsuit against former president, the late, Devan Nair.

But the Canadian courts dismissed Mr Lee’s application, citing that “Lee’s action is brought in a country that prides itself in allowing freedom of expression.”

So not only did the Lees win this case by avoiding going to trial, now they also want to get rid of the defence AEICs in this hearing.

Judge Belinda Ang will hear the plaintiffs’ application in the morning before the actual hearing for the assessment of damages begins (expected to be tomorrow afternoon).

Mr Lee Kuan Yew will take the stand following Mr Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore Press Holdings journalists, appearing for the plaintiffs, will be the witnesses thereafter.

Order of events on 12 May (subject to change):

10:00 am: Hearing of plaintiffs’ application to strike out defence AEICs
2:30 pm: Opening statements followed in order by the plaintiffs’ witnesses:

1. Lee Hsien Loong
2. Lee Kuan Yew
3. Loh Chee Kong (Today)
4. Lin Yanqin (Today)
5. Kor Kian Beng (The New Paper)
6. Marc Lim (Straits Times)