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After a three-year break, the SDP’s The New Democrat is back in business. Publication was stopped when Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, sued the party and its executive members for defamation over an article we published.
But the Singapore Democrats are proud to announce that normal services have been resumed. Party members visited several hawker centres downtown as well as at HDB estates to sell the newspaper, and sales have been encouraging.
In 2006, the Lees said that a story we wrote about the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) scandal were defamatory of them and the Government. As a result they sued.
The case was awarded to them without a trial. The courts only allowed the defendants to argue over the amount of damages we had to pay to the plaintiffs. Eventually, High Court Judge Belinda Ang awarded a total of $610,000.
During the hearing to assess the amount of damages, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin took on the Lees during cross-examination. The plaintiffs made an unprecedented application for their cross-examination to be limited to two hours. Judge Ang granted it.
Even then, the Lees refused to answer many questions put to them. In the end the SDP leaders were cited and jailed for contempt of court. (Listen to Dr Chee’s cross-examination of Mr Lee Kuan Yew here.)
The Lees also sued the printer who was made to promise, as a condition for not paying damages, not to print future issues of The New Democrat. As a result we had to discontinue publishing the newspaper.
Until now, that is. For a time, we concentrated on building up the party through this website. Now with the expansion of our operations and resources, we are able to begin our publication again and to resume sales.
Party members and supporters will fan out across the island to sell the new-look, tabloid-sized newspaper which contains four languages.
The exercise will help us reach out to the general public and is part of our campaign activities in preparation for the next general elections. It will also help the party raise funds.
Singaporeans will see that the presence of the Singapore Democrats is not limited to the Internet. While we have been at the forefront of using the new media to reach out to Singaporeans, the sale of the newspaper will help us establish a presence in the general public offline.
The current issue looks at the billions of dollars lost by GIC and Temasek as well as other bread-and-butter issues such as the witholding of our CPF savings and the high cost of living in Singapore.
In order to maximise sales and to spread our message more effectively, we need volunteers. We need all the help we can get. So please contact us at [email protected] and let’s start getting the SDP’s word out.