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The following letter by Ms Chee Siok Chin was sent to the Straits Times Forum in reply to Assistant Official Assignee Mr Malcolm Tan’s letter dated 5 Aug 08.
Mr Malcolm Tan’s distorted version of my meeting with the OA’s office is misleading (see letter below).
He says that I had refused to give my passport for verification. This is a lie. One of the officers had asked to go through my passport. As the majority of my travels had taken place before my bankruptcy, she had no right to peruse it.
I therefore flagged the pages of my passport which contained my travels that took place after my bankruptcy and went through these with the officers. None of them objected.
One officer said that she merely wanted to confirm if I had gone on the trips where the travel permits were approved. I confirmed that I had gone on each of those trips.
It is clear that Mr Tan is not telling the truth.
Mr Tan also accuses me of not telling them who was paying for my trip. Again, this is an outright lie.
I had submitted to the OA’s office on no less than four occasions the letter from Stanford University telling me that the university was paying for my trip. In part, the letter read:
“As mentioned, CDDRL (Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law) will cover the cost of your air and ground transportation. We will also buy a health insurance on your behalf …You should not really need much money since all of your meals, transportation, and housing are covered by the program.”
Contrary to what Mr Tan said in his letter, I never refused to answer who was paying for my trip to Stanford. Mr Tan is quite shameless in covering up the fact that the OA had full knowledge of this matter.
Mr Tan also says that I had refused to verify information of my income and expenditure statement. At the meeting, one of the officers told me that my creditors had wanted to know who was helping me financially. She said that if they wanted to remain anonymous, all I had to do was to put that in writing. That was done in my email to the officers on 9 July 2008.
How have I refused to verify the information requested?
The officers at the OA must come clean about why it refused my travel application to Stanford University. The initial reason they gave was that my previous trips had not benefited my creditors.
But after I sent them the letter from Stanford saying that the university would pay me an honorarium so that I could use that to pay the creditors, the OA changes tack and now says that the reason I was refused the travel permit was that I had been uncooperative.
Such flip-flopping is offensive.
To add insult to injury Mr Tan reveals the figures owed to my creditors. I remind Singaporeans that I was made bankrupt by the AG’s Chambers over a court challenge on a Constitutional matter, not because of my own private dealings.
Still, it is wholly unethical for the OA’s office to make public what they have been privately entrusted to manage. What has the information anything to do with this case? Even then, Mr Tan cannot get the figures right which adds to his unprofessionalism.
Lest the OA’s office forgets, the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office is a body that is supposed to serve citizens. It is not a vehicle to further the agenda of the ruling party.
Chee Siok Chin
Singapore Democratic Party
Official Assignee’s letter published in the Straits Times:
Why Chee’s sister denied Stanford visit
5 Aug 08, Straits Times Forum
I refere to last Saturday’s article, ”No’ to Stanford trip for Chee’s sister’. It contains a number of serious errors. It is regrettable that The Straits Times did not seek to verify the facts with us, unlike Lianhe Zaobao which did verify, and therefore published a more accurate article.
Ms Chee Siok Chin applied to the Official Assignee (OA) on June 17 for permission to travel to Stanford University in the United States from July 26 to Aug 20. She met officers of our department on July 3. At the meeting, as is the general practice, our officers asked her about her previous travels and requested to inspect her passport, since she needed permission of the OA to travel. She refused to give her passport for verification. She was also asked how she would be paying for her trip. It was important to establish this. But she refused to answer. Our officers also asked her to verify information she had given previously in her income and expenditure statements. She again refused to answer. Ms Chee was under a legal duty to cooperate but quite cynically refused to do so. Thus her application to travel was rejected.
Ms Chee owes a total of more than $59,000 to two creditors – Maybank ($15,896.44) and the Attorney-General ($43,364.17). To date, she has paid only $550.
The ST report states that Ms Chee would be given an honorarium for a public speech while attending her course at Stanford University. She did not mention this to the OA’s office during the interview on July 3. It surfaced only after her application was rejected. By then, she had clearly demonstrated her unwillingness to cooperate.
We have checked and would like to clarify that the Minister for Law did not receive any letter from Stanford University, contrary to what was reported.
Malcolm B.H. Tan
Assistant Official Assignee
for Official Assignee