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Here is another section of the cross-examination of Mr Lee Kuan Yew by Dr Chee Soon Juan. This section touches on the rule of law in Singapore, or rather, the lack of it.
CSJ : Mr Lee, turn with me to your AEIC. Did you or did you not say that “CSJ harbours a deep-seated hatred for me?”
LKY : Yes, I saw that affidavit.
CSJ : Good. That’s right, okay.
LKY : And you are manifesting it in court today.
CSJ : On the contrary, Mr Lee, I don’t hate you. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I don’t hate you. I feel sorry for you. I think you cut a pitiable figure but I don’t hate you. You see, I think you derive a lot of pleasure from what you do but I don’t think that you find any joy in life.
Singh : What’s the question? Can I ask the witness, can I ask Dr Chee to frame his question?
CSJ : For me, your honour –
Singh : Dr Chee should get on with the questions, if he has any. If not he should honourably say “no further questions”, your honour.
CSJ : The whole entire matter rests because you want to turn this fight into one of a personal duel. I’m not interested. What I’m interested in is justice, the rule of law, because ultimately it is not about you, Mr Lee. It is not about me. It’s about the people of Singapore, it is about this country and everything we stand for. You and I will pass on but I can tell you, the practice of the rule of law, the entire concept of justice, democracy – that is going to last for all eternity.
LKY : Your honour, the International Bar Association decided to honour Singapore and hold its annual conference in this city and you were given an opportunity to present your case, with your complaint that Singapore lack the rule of law. There were some 3000 lawyers there. I think they left Singapore with a very different impression from what you have projected because we have a letter from the President of the International Bar Association to the organisers, namely the Law Society of Singapore, how successful the meeting was and how impressed they were by the standards they found to obtain in the judiciary –
CSJ : Standards of the MRT or standards of the rule of law?
LKY : Standards of the rule of law and the judges, the meritocracy which is practised throughout the judiciary.
CSJ : What about the International Commission of Jurists? Do you have any comment on them?
LKY : There are Western organisations who believe you should only progress and become prosperous by being democratic in their particular way, their prescription –
CSJ : Is the International Bar Association an Asian organisation?
LKY : It is an international organisation.
CSJ : Thank you. So you have international organisation and international organisation. You pick one and you don’t pick the other.
LKY : No, we pick those who will make Singapore strong and prosperous. We do not follow –
CSJ : No, you pick those which will make you look good.
LKY : No, on the contrary, if those – the attributes that we go for, meritocracy, integrity, the education of the people, the quality of life of the people, facilities that we give them to advance – if those were missing, then all the indicators will soon turn downhill. One reason why we had allowed this altercation to go on is because we are leaning over backwards to allow you enough rope to tie yourself up, and you have successfully done that.
CSJ : You see, Mr Lee –
LKY : You have a guillotine. You know you have the time of two hours and you are wasting it, frittering it because you have nothing of substance to confront me with.
CSJ : You see, I had dinner with the Executive Director of the International Bar Association and I have correspondence with them as well. At the end of the Rule of Law Symposium which you were referring to, many of the participants came away very unhappy that the International Bar Association had held its meeting here. And I want to remind you that it continues to be a problem and I believe that the International Bar Association is watching this event very closely.
LKY : I’m sure they are and if you were present at my address to the International Bar Association.
CSJ : No, I was not present because you know why?
LKY : You will know that there was an approbation, and not a disapprobation. I don’t have to quote private dinner conversations. That was a public event with 3000 international lawyers there.
CSJ : Then also tell me –
LKY : May I also add that several of them, including Third World countries have come up and asked to see me, including the Governor of Lagos, to ask me if I could go there and address their International Bar Association.
CSJ : Yes, and Mr Lee, were those the same participants that attended the Rule of Law symposium and when I stood up to speak, when Mr Jayakumar was present, and the Chair wanted to cut me off and when I turned to the audience, and we said about 3000 or so, and I asked them, “Do you want to hear the rest of the story of the other Singapore?”, there was loud and susutained applause to the extent that Mr Frank Neate, the Chairman, had no choice but to allow me to continue. Will you then take it that this same group of lawyers had wanted to hear how the law in Singapore has been misused, has been abused, that frankly, there is no rule of law in Singapore.