10 Feb 2006

Singapore opposition leader served with bankruptcy petition

Singapore opposition leader served with bankruptcy petition
By Fayen Wong

SINGAPORE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A prominent Singaporean opposition leader said on Thursday that former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong had served a bankruptcy petition on him for failing to make libel payments.

Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, lost a three-year legal fight against defamation suits brought by Lee and Goh in January 2005, and was ordered to pay S$500,000 ($306,200) in damages for a case dating back to the 2001 parliamentary elections.

"I haven't been able to pay so they have served the bankruptcy petition. There is not much I can do now except to defend myself in court," Chee told Reuters.

Chee, a free speech proponent, has already lost his right to contest the next general election after being fined for speaking in public without a permit.

A High Court official confirmed that a bankruptcy petition was filed on Chee on Jan. 5 and that the High Court would hear the petition on Friday. Davinder Singh of law firm Drew & Napier, who represents Lee and Goh, declined to comment. He is also a PAP member of parliament.

Almost all Singapore's best-known opposition figures have faced legal action at some time by prominent members of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

Opposition and critics such as rights group Amnesty International say that defamation lawsuits brought by Singapore leaders are designed to cripple the opposition. But Singapore's leaders say it is necessary to safeguard their reputations.

Chee, a former university lecturer, defended himself during the trial last year as he said he was unable to get a Singapore law firm to represent him. The Singapore court rejected his requests to have foreign lawyers defending him.

Chee was found guilty in August 2002 of defaming Lee and Goh during the run-up to the 2001 election, by questioning their use of public funds.

Known for his strong criticism of the government, Chee has had several clashes with the ruling party. In 1997, he was ordered to pay S$315,000 to PAP member S. Vasoo and two other parties after Chee said that his sacking from the university was politically motivated.

The ruling PAP -- now led by Lee Kuan Yew's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong -- has dominated parliament since independence in 1965. It won 82 of 84 seats in November 2001 elections and has never lost more than four seats in any election. Chee's party has no seats.

Chee said it is likely that he would be made a bankrupt but that he would continue to push for democratic rights.

"I don't have to stand as a candidate to bring about democracy. I can always help others," he said.


pantalaimon said...

And another one bites the dust.

rench00 said...

i have no great love for Chee Soon Juan. for various (not all rational) reasons, i don't see him as credible.

however, i do hope people like Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Kiang and even Sylvia Lim get voted in this elections. then that would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

CSJ has no credibility because his credibility was DESTROYED by the PAP.

Lets put it this way, JBJ is also a bankrupt. Tang Liang Hong is also a bankrupt.

See the pattern.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new - this is PAP's weapon - that's how they can win.

Anonymous said...

rench00, can you read Dr Chee's books before shooting your mouth off?

Even many academias agree with Dr Chee, just that they do not dare to say it!

8-( said...

Sad that it has to resort to this big bully tactic just to stay in power. I wonder how many more peoples' reputation will be tarnished (by bankruptcy) before we can really be an open, progressive society.

rench00 said...

yes... i have read some of his books. and even if academics agree with him, that only makes him at most a good academic. not necessarily a good politician with good ideas for alternaitve policies.

besides, whatever good ideas he has, he lost it when he heckled someone like Goh Chok Tong. that demonstrated that he lacked the grasp of the people's sentiments... if he had heckled LKY or LHL, that might have been different... but GCT? who most people think of as a kind uncle? and to have gotten his facts wrong?

it is laudable what CSJ is doing. but i don't agree with the way he was trying to do it. politics is not just about writing a few books. it is not an academic exercise.

Anonymous said...

Well, politics is not just concerned about bread and butter issue but also social welfare issues too, which I feel is a quite lobsided.

Anonymous said...

Goh Chok Tong ever mentioned something to the effect that we cannot use religious views to handle political issues, and then subsequently echoed by LHL. I disagree with them bec we are still dealing with human beings and not "things" as, in my opinion, spiritual values help to maintain a good social r'ship within the local community as well as between international spheres.

sglaksa said...

Dr Chee is rubbish. He can't represent the people at all. So what if many academics agree with what he say? At the end of the day it counts on the support of Singaporeans. It's his own fault that he became bankrupt. He acted like a thug when he shouted at SM Goh in 2001.

Anonymous said...

Whether it is CSJ or any opposition party so long as he is a threat to PAP will face the same fate. Simply as that!

skl said...


You are just too presumptuous. It is better to keep your opinion to yourself. You action is no better than Dr Chee's.
It takes another 'rubbish' to recognise a 'rubbish'.

Anonymous said...

A fitting tribulation for the ungrateful dog who bit the hand of his master. Destructive for Singapore. Destructive for his own party as well.

He should be put away.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "fitting tribulation for the ungrateful dog who bit the hand of his master" What are YOU talking about? Are you saying that because PAP is the government NO ONE should defy them ? WOW HOHOHO, So all oppostition parties in the world are ungrateful dogs. Seriously can someone tell me the logic?