9 Oct 06
Dr Chee Soon Juan was charged today for attempting to leave Singapore in April 2006 without permission from the Official Assignee. He had his passport seized at the airport when he was scheduled to attend the 4th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) in Istanbul, Turkey.
Dr Chee was made a bankrupt after he couldn't pay the damages of $500,000 that was awarded to Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong in their defamation suits.
Because of this, the Official Assignee's (OA) office has refused to allow the SDP secretary-general to travel overseas.
The OA has repeatedly rejected Dr Chee's applications to attend conferences overseas even though in every case, the organisers undertook to pay for Dr Chee's expenses in full (see box on left).
The latest occasion is the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy organised by the Qatar Government in Doha, Qatar from 29 Oct-1 Nov 06 and supported by the United Nations.
Towards the end of March 2006, Dr Chee applied to attend the WMD conference. The OA wanted Dr Chee to submit a breakdown of his monthly income and expenditure so that it could determine how much Dr Chee would have to pay the PAP leaders. It promised that if Dr Chee undertook to do so, the OA would consider his travel application (see exchanges of emails below).
But when Dr Chee complied, the OA then shifted its position and asked him to make a proposal to pay Mr Lee and Mr Goh before it would consider his travel application.
The exchange of emails continued until the day of Dr Chee's scheduled departure during which the air-ticket had to be purchased. Not having received a reply from the OA, Dr Chee made his way to the airport during which his passport was impounded.
The OA then proceeded to charge the SDP leader that he "did attempt to leave Singapore, on or about the 1st day of April 2006, without the previous permission of the Official assignee and have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 131(2) of the Bankruptcy Act (Chapter 20) read with Section 511 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224)."
In another case, Dr Chee is charged with Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Mr Yap Keng Ho for speaking in public without a permit. The trial is set for 25 Oct 06.