Silence in the courtroom

November 9, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Day 12 of the trial of PP v Gandhi Ambalam, Chee Soon Juan and Yap Keng Ho started with Dr Chee making another plea to Judge Eddy Tham to rethink his decision to disallow the Defendants to question police witnesses.

The three men are charged with speaking in public without a permit on 22 Apr 06.

“Regarding the matter of our raising questions about the case being politically motivated and the refusal of the police to grant us a permit for 22 Apr,” Dr Chee started off, “I would like to ask if you (Judge) have changed your position.”

The Defendants had wanted to adduce evidence from the witnesses to show that the police had acted under instructions of the PAP and that the police had no intention to grant a permit for outdoor political speeches.

“By ruling these questions irrelevant, you are consigning our case to the legal grave, and killing off any hope of us winning the case,” Dr Chee continued.

The crux of the matter is that the Prosecution had presented a half-truth. Deputy Public Prosecutor Ms Lee Lit Cheng showed that the police had not received an application from the SDP to speak on 22 Apr and that no permit had been given.

Dr Chee then tried to establish the point that the police had no intention of giving such permits. Home Affairs Minister Mr Wong Kan Seng had repeatedly stressed that the Government will not authorise political speeches in public.

DPP Lee quickly objected and Judge Eddy Tham agreed, ruling ruled Dr Chee’s question irrelevant.

This made it impossible for the Defence to adduce evidence to show that it was the Government that did not want to give the permit, not that the SDP did not want to apply for one.

“The DPP has tried to blind you,” Dr Chee pointed out. “The question now is whether you will allow yourself to be blinded.

“If the Government announces a blanket ban on outdoor political speeches, common sense will tell you that you cannot fault the SDP for not applying for one.

“What I’m asking you to do is to apply some common sense to this matter because legal sense, without common sense, is nonsense.”

The Judge refused to budge.

In that case, Dr Chee continued, the message that the Judge is sending is that he has already made up his mind.

“You leave us with only one option which is to conclude that this trial is woefully unfair.”

Mr Gandhi Ambalam then read out the statement on behalf of the Defendants. Halfway through, the DPP rose to object and the Judge shouted that this was not the time to read out statements.

Mr Ambalam persisted and finished reading it before sitting down.

Thereafter, the Defendants maintained silence, refusing to cross-examine the witnesses. One by one, the Judge summoned five police officers to the courtroom and the Defendants were asked if they had any questions for the witnesses.

Silence.

Hearing continues tomorrow at 9:30 am.