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During arguments on whether Judge Belinda Ang should recuse herself, Dr Chee Soon Juan asked if the Judge had made a complaint against Mr Ravi over the summary judgement incident.
This is because her colleague Judge Woo Bih Li had earlier recused himself from hearing the matter because he had reported defence counsel Mr M Ravi to the Law Society in another case.
On hearing Dr Chee’s question, Judge Ang became visibly upset. “I didn’t make the complain, okay!” she scowled and threw a report she was holding on the table with a thump.
“We’re just confirming something,” Mr Ravi joined in. “You don’t have to get so flustered.”
Dr Chee pressed on. Even if you didn’t make the report, you or your chambers must have had something to do with the complaint and we just want to determine the extent of it, the SDP secretary-general continued.
“No, I don’t want to continue with this,” the Judge intoned, “I will make my ruling.”
Mas Selamat in chambers
In deciding on the new dates for the cross-examination of the Lees, Dr Chee informed the Judge that his verdict for his trial for speaking in public was due on 21 May (next Wed).
Plaintiffs’ counsel Mr Davinder Singh jumped in to say that should Dr Chee go to prison, the SDP leader would have to make arrangements to attend the hearing, making it clear that he wanted the hearing to go on with or without Dr Chee.
“I’m no Mas Selamat,” Dr Chee quipped, “but I’ll certainly apply to the prison authorities to let me come to court.”
Even the plaintiffs’ lawyers chuckled out loud except, of course, Mr Singh.
Who pays for the security guards?
Milling around outside the courtroom the entire day were a detail of 10 to 15 security guards assigned to protect the Prime Minister when he arrived in court.
Question: Who pays for their time? Obviously the taxpayers. But remember that the Lees are suing the SDP as private citizens, not in their official capacities.
Whenever they get their damages it goes into their private bank accounts, the state is not reimbursed. Sue your opponents, make them bankrupt and make tons of money all on office time, using state cars, and making civil servants issue press statements on your behalf. Not bad, huh?
Senior Counsel didn’t do homework
In trying to counter the applications made by the defendants for the Judge’s recusal as well as for the session to be held in open court, Mr Davinder Singh accused the defence of trying to disrupt and delay the hearing.
Fully expecting Mr Singh to sing this tired refrain, the defendants came prepared. Dr Chee pointed out that they had brought up these matters at the pre-trial conference (PTC) last week.
He had specifically pointed out that the applications should be heard before the hearing for assessment of damages so that the cross-examination of the Lees would not be delayed.
“We don’t want to be accused of employing delay tactics on 12 May,” Dr Chee pointed out to Senior Assistant Registrar (SAR) Ms Sharon Lim on 6 May.
Despite this Judge Ang subsequently indicated that these matters would be heard on the morning of 12 May.
“It is unforgivable for a Senior Counsel to not do his homework and be so shoddy with his facts,” Dr Chee said. “Perhaps he might like to ask his assistant who attended the PTC what went on. Or we can always ask SAR Sharon Lim to confirm this if Mr Singh so wishes.”
Of course, Mr Singh didn’t so wish and for the remainder of the hearing there was no mention of delay tactics again.
Lees’ precious time
When Mr Singh realised that the application hearings were taking longer than expected because his opponents were not rolling over and playing dead, he called the Judge’s attention to his clients’ time and wanted the matter to be heard even after normal hours.
“My clients’ have set aside time to give evidence,” he told the Court. “Mr Lee Hsien Loong was scheduled to appear this afternoon. If we have to I’d like to continue on with the hearing so that my client can come in to testify today even if it’s late.”
Finding this request a little curious, if not altogether obnoxious, Ms Chee Siok Chin retorted: “Surely the Court cannot accommodate Mr Lee’s schedule at the expense of justice. We have arguments to make and issues to settle.”
Hearing this, Mr Singh quickly explained that he was just trying to keep to the schedule.
Imagine that! Wanting the Prime Minister to make time to come to court to give evidence in his own lawsuit. What were the defendants thinking?!
The cross-examination of the Lees is now scheduled for 26 May 08. Parliament is sitting then but Mr Singh informed the Judge that his clients could ponteng (play truant) Parliament and come to court.
Maybe what answers the opposition can’t get in Parliament, it can get from next door in the Supreme Court.