Last month, Dr Chee Soon Juan had written that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong would try to avoid going to open court over the NKF lawsuit:
“The only worry is that the plaintiffs will try to prevent the matter from going to trial and avoid being cross-examined. This can be done through frivolous court applications to try to bog the process down and drain the defendants financially. Another possibility is that the Lees may use legal technicalities to overcome the defendants’ actions thereby preventing the matter from going to open trial.” (Click here to read full statement.)
It seems that the Lees are living up to their reputation. During the pre-trial conference held today their lawyer, Mr Adrian Tan of Drew & Napier, dropped the bombshell that his clients are likely to apply for summary judgment.
Summary judgment means that the matter will be heard behind closed-doors (instead of open court), no witnesses will be allowed to be called, and the defendants will not be allowed to present their case.
The assistant registrar will then make the decision as to whether the Dr Chee and Ms Chee are guilty of defaming the Lees – without having heard evidence from anyone.
In 2001, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong also applied for summary judgment against Dr Chee Soon Juan over the Indonesian-loan lawsuit. Dr Chee was found guilty of defaming Messrs Lee and Goh and ordered to pay the two $500,000 in damages – all without a trial.
In the present case, Dr Chee and Ms Chee have indicated repeatedly that they will not apologise to the Lees and look forward to facing both father and son in court when both sides will present witnesses and subject themselves to cross-examination. Lawyer M Ravi have also indicated repeatedly that he looked forward to cross-examining the Lees.
Apparently getting a bout of cold-feet, the Lees are now thinking twice about proceeding with the matter and want to have it heard behind closed-doors. If the Lees go ahead with decision to apply for summary judgment, it will signal the biggest cowardly act ever to be taken by PAP’s leaders.
The Lees ought not resort to such unseemly action. They should face the Chees in open court so that all parties can get to the bottom of the matter and have the public see and hear all the evidence presented.
Dr Chee and Ms Chee, having discussed the matter with lawyer Mr M Ravi, have decided that they would like to call the following as witnesses and apply to subpoena them if necessary:
1. Mr Goh Chok Tong (Senior Minister)
2. Mr Khaw Boon Wan (Minister for Health)
3. Mr Lim Hng Kiang (2nd Minister for Finance)
4. Mdm Ho Ching (Managing Director of Temasek Holdings and wife of PM Lee)
5. Mr Lee Suan Yew (brother of MM Lee)
6. Former NKF Board members
7. Head of the National Council of Social Services
8. Head of the Housing and Development Board
9. Head of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation
10. Mr Tang Liang Hong (sued by PAP leaders)
11. Mr Francis Seow (former solicitor-general and detained under the ISA)
12. Mr Tan Wah Piow (former University of Singapore student leader and jailed)
13. Ms Tang Fong Har (detained under ISA in the so-called Marxist conspiracy)
14. Mr Said Zahari (detained under the ISA for 17 years)
15. International experts/academics
Letter to the Lees
14 Jun 2006
Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Mr Lee Hsien Loong
It is with much regret, though not with the slightest surprise, that we learn from your lawyer this morning that you are considering applying for summary judgment in the lawsuit that you have taken against us. We had suspected all along that you would try to avoid going to open trial. Our suspicion seems to have basis.
We have repeatedly told you since the day you sent us your letter of demand that we will not apologise and that we look forward to seeing the both of you in court. There is, therefore, absolutely no case for a summary judgment. Such an application would become a laughing stock of the world.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew said on 9 May 2006: "If anybody calls me a liar and dishonest, I'll take him straightaway to court. I'll be in the witness box..." By going for summary judgment, how are you going to be in the witness box? And if you don’t get into the witness box, what conclusions do you expect us to draw from this?
We have lined up a list of witnesses that will support our defence and tear up your case. We have a lawyer, Mr M Ravi, who looks forward to cross-examining you. If you believe that you have just as strong a case, let us go to trial so that we can get to the bottom of everything.
We have said it before and we will say it again: We are prepared to face you in court Please don’t try to avoid this by applying for summary judgment. It is most unbecoming of a Minister Mentor and Prime Minister. If you have the temerity to sue us over the article, at least have the courage to face us in court.
Chee Soon Juan
Chee Siok Chin
Related: Today says CSJ trying to avoid Lee