Urgent: Dr Chee Soon Juan’s health deteriorates in prison

November 29, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Dr Chee Soon Juan was visited by his sister Ms Chee Siok Chin this afternoon at the Queenstown Remand Prison. They met to discuss their lawsuit brought on by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

During the brief half an hour meeting, Dr Chee revealed that he had not eaten since the morning of Monday 27 November. This was because every time he ate what was served to him, he would feel nauseous and dizzy and then throw up. Normal sounds such as the jangling of the guard’s keys and even the sound of his cell mate urinating are amplified causing him massive headaches. He has not been able to sleep and has been taking valium to help him rest. Dr Chee has also lost a considerable amount of weight.

A close friend of ex-remisier Mr Boon Suan Ban who was committed to Institute of Mental Health (IMH) last year, had revealed that the latter was given medication for schizophrenia even though he did not suffer from that ailment. Mr Boon had taken legal action against the close friend of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and former Chief Justice, Mr Yong Pung How. It was only when he proceeded with the case that he was then committed to the IMH.

There were speculations that the late Mr Lim Chin Siong, the leader of the now-defunct political party, Barisan Socialis who was imprisoned by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1963, was given drugs during his confinement. The once spirited Mr Lim came close to taking his own life whilst in prison.

In an open letter to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s former president, the late Mr Devan Nair who had a fall out with the former, said that he came under “heavy sedation from 125 mgs of valium daily” for 10 days, administered by the medical staff, enough medication to “dope an elephant”.

The above cases give real cause for concern and suspicion for the enormous discomfort that Dr Chee is presently experiencing.

Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Mr Yap Keng Ho were sentenced to prison for making a speech in public without a permit. The three men have not seen each other since they were taken into prison.

Friends from the Singapore Democratic Party have made numerous requests to the prison authorities to see Mr Yap Keng Ho. We understand that Mr Yap is on a hunger strike and we have made urgent requests to see him to ascertain his condition. The prison authorities have been cold and callous about this and have been dragging their feet on the matter.

Mr Gandhi Ambalam has a heart ailment and his family has not received news on how he is doing since the first visit to him.

Dr Chee also revealed that the Attorney General’s Chambers are proceeding with the other seven charges on him and Mr Yap for the same offence that both men are now serving sentence for. Their pre-trial conference comes up on 4 January 2007.

Dr Chee and Ms Chee are to attend another pre-trial conference on the assessment of damages in the suit brought on by the Lees in the mid January 2007.

These are in addition to another trial of Dr Chee for attempting to leave Singapore without a permit. Dr Chee has to attend court on 21 December 2006, almost immediately after he is released from serving the current jail term. It seems likely that he has to serve another sentence soon after his release from the current one.

These three men are prisoners of conscience. Their incarceration is politically motivated by the ruling party, if not the Singapore Government. They have not committed any crime. They are victims of a dictatorial regime that is desperate to cling on to power.

Family and friends are extremely concerned that the authorities are trying to psychologically destabilize the men and play mind games on them to discourage them from furthering their act of civil disobedience against repressive laws in Singapore.

Although Dr Chee is not on a hunger strike, the prison authorities interpret his abstinence from taking the food they give him as such act, and will punish him by depriving him of family visits and “yard-time”. The family will request to the prison authorities to allow him food brought from home.

The actions taken against Dr Chee, Mr Gandhi and Mr Yap by the Singapore Government are deplorable.

We call on our fellow Singaporeans to express their support by writing to the authorities to show their concern for the three.

To our friends in the international community, we ask that you write to the Singapore Government to visit Dr Chee, Mr Gandhi and Mr Yap to ensure that their physical and psychological conditions do not worsen during their imprisonment.

For further information and update, please see:

http:www.singaporedemocrat.org