Tuesday, May 13, 2008

These defamation lawsuits are "scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process"

The lawyers for the Lees have been quoted as saying that the SDP's Affidavit Evidence In Chief (AEIC) is scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process.

I laughed till i had tears when I read that because I was wondering if the lawyers were from talkingcock.com!

These politically motivated defamation lawsuits are the ones that are scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process. And i'll add cowardly to this heady brew. Cowardly because they have all the power and control and they use it to intimidate, bully and destroy lives. Apparently they're so high up the ladder that they can't bring themselves down to use just counter arguments and have a debate about the issues but instead go for the jugular.

Ask most Singaporeans, even those who are not as politically engaged in any way, you're likely to get a response like aiyah, they always win lah! but most may not say so publicly but in private conversations and thoughts. They'll win the cases but they'll continue to keep losing the hearts and minds of the people.
From the SDP.......I won't recuse myself: Judge Ang

Parties spent the entire day in Judge Belinda Ang's chambers today exchanging legal arguments. The Judge had refused to hold the session in open court.

The defendants comprising of the SDP, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan had wanted two preliminary applications heard in open court.

These were: One, the application by the defence for the Judge to recuse herself and, two, the plaintiffs' application to strike out the defendants' Affidavit Evidence-in-Chief (AEIC). The AEICs spell out the defence's case.

Justice must manifestly seen to be done

Dr Chee said that the Singaporean public and international community had misgivings about the Judiciary especially when it came to defamation cases involving the PAP and opposition. Conducting the sessions in chambers would not help to improve the situation.

"If the legal arguments are sound and the judgment is sound, there is no reason why the proceedings should not be held in open court," Dr Chee argued.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Davinder Singh contended that the arguments are "private" and that there was "nothing exceptional" about the case.

Ms Chee Siok Chin countered that the plaintiffs' attempt to strike out the defendants' AEICs would "chop off the legs" of the defence case, as these affidavits formed the heart of the SDP's defence.

In such an important matter, Mr Singh's arguments should be heard by everyone in open court.

Dr Chee added that for the sake of transparency and to allow justice to be manifestly seen to be done, it is imperative that the applications be heard in open court.

No, said the Judge.

No confidence in the Judge

The defendants then proceeded to present arguments on why Judge Ang should disqualify herself from hearing the case.

The judge had agreed with Mr Singh when he repeatedly used words such as "ploy", "ruse", "manipulation" to portray Mr Ravi's absence in court during the summary judgement hearing in 2006.

This was proved to be completely false when Mr Ravi's physician provided a written report tesifying that the lawyer was indeed ill and unable to attend court.

And yet Judge Ang allowed Mr Singh to freely cast aspersions against Mr Ravi when she should have noted that it was not proper for Mr Singh to make such prejudical remarks when Mr Ravi was not present to defend himself.

Mr Singh had also noted that the initial medical certificate that Mr Ravi produced had the date written in blue ink but signed in black ink, questioning the genuineness of the MC.

"To make insinuations that Mr Ravi had tampered with evidence or forged a medical certificate is a very serious matter," Dr Chee charged.

Without a shred of evidence to back himself up, Mr Singh had recklessly piled on one wild allegation after another to the extent that he was implying there was a conspiracy by the defendants and their counsel to defraud the Judge.

Again, why did Judge Ang allow such serious allegations to be made by Mr Singh when his counterpart was not present to defend himself?

The Judge allowed her mind to be poisoned, willingly or not, by Mr Singh's horrendous accusations which were all subsequently shown to be lies.

Ms Chee Siok Chin weighed in: "At that summary judgement hearing, it seemed to me as though we were up against not one but two parties."

Based on these, as well as other, observations, would Ms Ang recuse herself? No, said the Judge.

Observing the trial

Since she would not hold the hearings in open court, would the Judge allow a lawyer from Malaysia, Mr Saha Deva, into the chambers to witness the proceedings as an independent observer?

No, said the Judge.

Mr Saha is one of the lawyers for the five Hindraf leaders who have been detained without trial under the ISA by the Malaysian government.

Why so late?

The next issue that was argued was the striking out application made by the plaintiffs. Mr Ravi said that he was served a two-volume, 800-page bundle of authorities on Friday night last week and then expected to come in to court on Monday morning to make counter arguments.

The SDP's lawyer said this was unfair and asked for some time to prepare his arguments.

Mr Singh countered that he had informed the defendants as early as Nov 07 that the plaintiffs would be objecting to the defence AEICs.

Dr Chee then asked why, if the plaintiffs had known that they were going to object to the AEICs as early as November last year, did they wait until just a few weeks before the hearing today to make the formal application to strike out the AEICs.

Mr Singh did not reply to the question but instead said that the contents of his application were "uncontroversial."

"To you maybe," Dr Chee pointed out. "But to non-lawyers such Ms Chee and I, we don't even know where to begin. But you haven't answered my question: Why did you wait until April this year to file your application when you knew since November last year that you were objecting to our AEICs?"

Again, Mr Singh avoided the question and Dr Chee had to ask a third time.

The Judge then interjected and said that she would allow the defendants time to prepare their counter-arguments.

The case was adjourned to 22 May 08 to hear the Lees' application to strike out the defendants' AEICs. This will be heard in chambers.

The hearing for damages assessment during which the Lees will be cross-examined will take place on 26-28 May 08. This will be held in open court.

There will be more updates on scenes from inside the Judge's chambers. You will not want to miss these. Log in again soon.
From the Straits Times....Hearing delayed by two weeks on Chees' request

THE High Court hearing to decide the amount of damages the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its two leaders have to pay for defaming the Prime Minister and Minister Mentor has been postponed by two weeks.

The three-day hearing is now slated to start on May 26.

It was to have started yesterday, with PM Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee Kuan Yew expected to take the stand.But the opposition party leaders asked for more time to prepare for a related case and Justice Belinda Ang agreed.

The request was among four issues that dominated the legal tussle yesterday, which was held behind closed doors in the judge's chambers.

From 10am to 6pm, lawyers for the Lees - led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh from Drew and Napier - and SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister Chee Siok Chin and SDP lawyer M. Ravi argued on various issues.

Justice Ang settled at least four of them.

First, the Chees wanted all the matters raised in the judge's chambers yesterday to be heard in open court.

Second, they wanted Malaysian lawyer Saha Deva, a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council, to be allowed to sit in on the hearing in chambers as a trial observer.

Third, they asked Justice Ang to disqualify herself from hearing the case on the grounds that she had awarded the Lees a summary judgment in 2006, after the Chees walked out of her chambers.

She rejected all three applications. But she agreed to their final request: more time to respond to the Lees' application to strike out the affidavits of the Chees and former solicitor-general and opposition politician Francis Seow, who lives abroad.

Lawyers for the Lees had applied to strike out the affidavits on April 7, arguing that they were scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process.

But the Chees asked for a seven-day adjournment, as they were given an 800-page bundle of documents on the matter last Friday, a collection of past court cases to which the Lees' lawyers will refer for their arguments.

If their affidavits are struck out, they will not take the stand to be cross-examined by the Lees' lawyers.

It would be like going into the hearing 'naked', SDP lawyer M. Ravi told reporters later on the importance of preserving the affidavits.

But lawyers for the Lees told reporters that it was quite normal for these documents to be given to the other party on the day of the hearing.

Justice Ang, in agreeing to the adjournment, set May 22 for the hearing on the issue in her chambers.

As a result of the change, the hearing to assess the defamation damages had to be pushed back.

The Lees are seeking aggravated damages following a High Court ruling that the SDP and the Chees had defamed PM Lee and MM Lee in articles published in the party's newsletter in 2006.

Nearly 50 people, including SDP members and supporters dressed in black, turned up at Court 4B yesterday to witness what would have been a first: the Lees being quizzed by their political opponents in open court.

The public gallery was packed. So was the media's. All waited patiently as the two sides slugged it out in the judge's chambers. Some returned after lunch to continue the wait.

Officers from the Police Security Command, the unit responsible for guarding political leaders, did a security sweep of the courtroom, heightening the anticipation that PM Lee and MM Lee would turn up.

It did not happen.

As Mr Ravi put it: 'We've to cancel the show today.'
From TODAY......SDP, Chee hearing delayed another two weeks

Prime Minister, Minister Mentor not taking the witness stand just yet

Tuesday • May 13, 2008

Derrick A Paulo

THE High Court hearing of the defamation suit against Dr Chee Soon Juan — one that has been two years in the making — did not even come close to getting off the ground yesterday.

As lengthy discussions on a number of outstanding issues took place throughout the day in the judge's chambers, it eventually became clear that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew would not be taking the stand just yet.

The two People's Action Party (PAP) leaders have agreed to be cross-examined by Dr Chee to determine damages owed for defamation. It would be the first time a PAP leader is to be quizzed in open court directly by a political opponent.

But history will still be made in two weeks' time, after Justice Belinda Ang set May 26 to 28 as the new dates for the hearing.

Legal counsel for the two leaders told reporters they had been hoping to proceed immediately, as there already have been several delays in the case.

But, the defendants — the Singapore Democratic Party, represented by lawyer M Ravi, and two of its leaders, secretary- general Dr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin — made three applications before the court that had to be heard first.

Chief among these was the request for Justice Ang to disqualify herself from hearing the case. The defendants are claiming bias against them — for example, on the basis that Justice Ang had awarded the Lees a summary judgment in 2006 in this same case on whether the SDP had defamed the Lees by drawing parallels between governance in the National Kidney Foundation and the Singapore Government.

But the defendants' arguments were not accepted and Justice Ang, who said it was her duty to hear all cases presented to her, will hear the case when it goes to open court.

Mr Ravi, Dr Chee and Ms Chee all presented arguments yesterday and tried to have the rest of the day's hearing held in open court "as a matter of public interest", Mr Ravi told reporters.

They wanted the Lees' application to strike out their affidavits to also be heard before the public. This was denied. Instead, this matter will be heard in chambers on May 22.

If successful, the application would mean the defendants would have to rely more heavily on the cross-examination of the Lees for their case, said Mr Ravi.

"But we were told there will be latitude to cross-examine. At least, that gave us more confidence in our case," he said after proceedings were adjourned at about 6pm.

Dr Chee told reporters he would put his comments on the SDP website, including shedding light on his third application — which was also denied — to ask for a lawyer from the human rights committee in the Malaysian Bar Council to sit in for the hearing in chambers. But there was no update as of press time.

The last time a PAP leader was cross-examined in court was in 1997, when the Queen's Counsel for Mr JB Jeyaretnam questioned then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's motives for bringing a defamation suit against the opposition veteran.

Earlier that same year, then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew was cross-examined by the lawyer for the wife of exiled opposition candidate Tang Liang Hong.

1 comment:

Aidil Omar said...

The year now is 2008. It is the 21st century. With the advent of the internet and technological achievements, misinformation by means of propaganda no longer work.

Everyday many people are awakened. Those who chose to see will see the light. Those who do not, lay strapped and blinded by the political machineries bent on total control and demanding your absolute submission.

Their ways are already fast becoming extinct just as lawyers are depleting at a rate faster than you can "Mama, kosong dua and teh-tarik satu."