Lees cut and run

May 27, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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The Lees dropped two bombshells in court today. The first was an application to put a guillotine time on the cross-examination of them.

At the start of the session, Mr Davinder Singh made the application for the Judge to stop the questioning of Mr Lee Hsien Loong at 11:30 am. He also said that Mr Lee Kuan Yew must not be questioned for more than two hours.

The defendants were flabbergasted and rose to remind the Judge that the allotted time for the hearing was three days until 28 May 08 (tomorrow). Only one day had elapsed.

Judge Belinda Ang ruled in the plaintiffs’ favour.Then came a bigger surprise. At around 12 noon, Mr Lee Kuan Yew walked into the courtroom, just when Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s cross-examination was coming to an end.

Mr Davinder Singh then told the court that the Minister Mentor had just arrived to testify. But he also had an “important matter” to attend to in the afternoon and wanted the session to continue through lunchtime to end at 2:15 pm.

What about lunch? Too bad. Everybody just had to wait until Mr Lee senior finished testifying.

“This is bizarre,” Dr Chee objected to no avail. “At least tell us what this important matter is.”

Mr Singh refused to tell and Judge Ang did not ask. Again, she ruled in the plaintiff’s favour.

This is probably the first time court sat through lunchtime to hear a case because one of the parties had insisted that he had an “important matter” but refused to say what the matter was. (Oh yes, there was a ten minute break for Ms Chee to get some food because she had to take her medication.)

During the cross-examination of Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Chee repeatedly asked him to not hide behind his lawyer and answer the questions put to him. Mr Singh objected to almost every question put to his client, questions regarding the GIC, HDB, CPF, NKF, ministers’ pay and so on. Judge Ang upheld them. (A list of the questions the Prime Minister avoided answering will be published in due course.)

“You can tell your lawyer right here and now that you want to answer my questions,” Dr Chee pointed out. The Prime Minister stole a glance at Mr Singh and remained silent.

“Let me warn you Mr Lee that you and your father’s moral standing to rule Singapore is at stake. I ask that you re-consider your application to impose a guillotine time,” Dr Chee added.

At one point, Mr Singh, probably out of desperation, interjected: “As counsel, I made the decision!”

“Without your client’s approval how can you do that?” Dr Chee replied, adding that Mr Singh was putting his client in a bad light.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong remained stoic and silent.

When Mr Lee Kuan Yew took the stand, Dr Chee repeated the same remarks urging the Minister Mentor to not curtail the time for his cross-examination.

“Tell Mr Singh not to object to my questions and that you want to answer them,” Dr Chee told Mr Lee senior.

He reminded the MM of his own boast: “If you defame us, we’re prepared to sue you, go into the witness box and be cross-examined. You can brief the best lawyers and demolish us. If I’m involved, I go to the witness box. And you can question me, not only on the particular defamatory issue, but all issues in my life.”

Dr Chee also reminded the MM that his and his government’s moral standing was at stake if he continued to insist on truncating the cross-examination time. Like his son, Mr Lee also refused to allow the defendants the time allotted.

So much for the blather about you-can-question-me-on-all-issues-in-my-life.