SINGAPORE: Feer to appeal against court decision to proceed with suitFar Eastern Economic Review appeal against prime minister's defamation suit will be heard early next year
Thursday, November 30, 2006
By Zakir Hussain
The Far Eastern Economic Review (Feer) will appeal against a court decision that a defamation suit against the magazine should proceed.
The notice of appeal was filed on Monday, two days before yesterday's deadline, said Mr Peter Low of Peter Low Partnership, which is representing Feer.
The magazine is appealing against the decision Assistant Registrar Dorcas Quek made on Nov 15, when she dismissed its application to get the courts to throw out the suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
The application was made last month by the Hong Kong-based magazine's publisher, Review Publishing, and its editor Hugo Restall.
PM Lee and MM Lee had sued both of them in August over an article titled, Singapore's "Martyr," Chee Soon Juan, that Feer published in July.
In it, Mr Restall cited, among others, the National Kidney Foundation scandal, saying it raised questions about the Government's supervision of the charity.
He also wrote about the Government's handling of public funds and questioned its reputation.
Lawyers for the Lees said the article was calculated to disparage both leaders.
Feer's bid to throw out the suit was argued behind closed doors earlier this month.
Mr Low, in arguing the case, had objected to the serving of a writ of summons on his clients in Hong Kong in September.
The procedure, he said, was not in keeping with a legal treaty Singapore had with China.
The writ must be served through "diplomatic channels," not by lawyers appointed in Hong Kong, he said.
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew & Napier, representing the Lees, said the treaty did not apply as it was a treaty between Singapore and China, and has no application to Hong Kong.
Another argument Mr Low made was that the Lees were asking the court here to extend its jurisdiction beyond Singapore as their claim for damages was not limited to what is applicable here.
But Mr Singh said the claim for damages was restricted and concerned only publications and re-publications in Singapore.
In dismissing the Feer application, Ms Quek also ordered Review Publishing and Mr Restall to pay the Lees $24,000 to cover their legal costs.
The appeal is scheduled to be heard on Jan 3 next year.
Date Posted: 11/30/2006