Saturday, June 14, 2008

Transcript part Vl - CSC vs LHL

This is the full transcript of Chee Siok Chin's cross-examination of Lee Hsien Loong. As a watcher on the public gallery, there were two things of note -

* Lee Hsien Loong's eyes darted towards his counsel ever so often when an awkward question was posed.

* Lee Kuan Yew was not in court during most of the exchange. He arrived and took the seat just as his son was prompted by his counsel Davindar Singh to explain an earlier answer.

But first, some updates :

Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin have been released from prison after serving 11 and 10 days respectively for contempt of court. Visit SDP for updates. Video here.

Gopalan Nair has written his first blog entry since his arrest and detention two weeks ago.

Interesting new blog - It keeps tabs on the physical and mental health of Lee Kuan Yew, and makes a pretty valid case of why his passing will be crucial to Singapore's future.


Chee Siok Chin : Good morning, Mr Lee.

Lee Hsien Loong : Good Morning.

CSC : Mr Lee, I hope you do realise that Senior Counsel is making you look rather bad for objecting to almost every question that was raised by the second defendent. He is now saying that he took the decision to strike out our AEIC himself. I have that -

Davindar Singh : Miss Chee should not misunderstand or misinterpret what I said -

CSC : He is making you look as if you cannot hold your own in court.

Singh : What I said and it's on the record -

CSC : My first question to you, Mr Lee is -

Singh : Is that I advised the clients -

CSC : How long have you been the Prime Minister? How long have you held office as Prime Minister of Singapore?

LHL : Since August 2004.

CSC : So that's almost 4 years?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : And during these 4 years as the Prime Minister, how many defamtion suits have you filed or initiated?


Singh : Your honour, what's the relevance of that?

CSC : Mr Singh, please. Let your -

Singh : I do object on the basis of relevance, your honour.

Judge Belinda Ang : Sustained.

CSC : Would I be right to say that you've initiated 2, if not 3, defamation suits whilst in office as Prime Minister?

Singh : Objection based on relevance, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : As the leader of the country, Mr Lee, do you believe that it's your job is to look after the development of the people i.e. ensuring that Singaporeans are fed, that no one has to beg for a living, no left is left homeless, every child gets to have the opportunity to go to school, so on and so forth?

LHL : Your honour, this is not the place to read a political manifesto.

CSC : I'm asking you as the leader of the country, just try to answer yes or no. Don't try to avoid the question.

Singh : Can I know, your honour, the relevance of the question?

CSC : It goes into assessing Mr Lee's claim for damages because if he says that he's done -

Singh : Your -

CSC : Wait, sit down, I've not finished. He is going to say that he's worth so much and so much because of what he's done for the country. And so this question is very relevant when it comes to assessing the quantum of damages that he will be demanding for.

Singh : It's not relevant, your honour, because it goes to specific instances. As your honour knows from the decision in Latle and Schpedel (check spelling) which went all the way to the House of Lords, you can give evidence of general reputation, good or bad, but you cannot go into specific instances.

CSC : Are you allowing the question?

Judge : Sustained. Disallowed.

CSC : Mr Lee, you had said in your testimony yesterday that the responsibility of the Prime Minister is to know the pulse of the people in the country, and if they are unhappy. Do you agree?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : And do you feel that you can feel that pulse?

LHL : I try my best.

CSC : What do you think that pulse tells you?

Singh : Relevance, your honour?

Judge : Explain yourself, Miss Chee.

CSC : Your honour, as the Prime Minister who says that -

Judge : The relevance of your question to the assessment of damages.

CSC : It is important to know the pulse of the people. It goes to show whether or not he knows what is happening on the ground -

Judge : Miss -

CSC : And that he is fulfilling his job, his duty, as the Prime Minister. I don't see how this is irrelevant when it comes to assessing his character, his merits, his competence, as the Prime Minister?

Singh : Your honour, the people of Singapore have already voted the government in with an overwhelming majority. While it would be interesting to have a discussion with Miss Chee on these issues, the question ultimately is how does it goes into the question of assessment of damages?

Judge : Question is disallowed.

CSC : As the Prime Minister, as the leader of the country, do you know, can you feel it when you come up with policies and people, citizens are unhappy with these policies -

Judge : Miss Chee, move on.

CSC : I'm moving on. I've just asked another question - what's the irrelevance, what's the shaking of your head mean? You said that a nod doesn't mean affirmative in chambers -

Judge : Irrelevant.

CSC : Now you shake your head, I need to know to ask you -

Judge : I've just answered you. Move on.

CSC : Thank you. Mr Lee, have you been to food centres to eat?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : Have you seen old, blind, cripppled people selling tissue paper. Have to ever been to public toilets where you see the elderly washing the toilets. In the food centres, do you see people in their 60s, 70s, bent over, collecting dishes to eke out a living? Do you see all that?

Singh : Your honour, apart from demonstrating that in Singapore, old people have the dignity of employment, that question is irrelevant to this court.

CSC : Dignity of employment?

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : When you are in your 70s, when you are bent over, when you have to work because the government does not take care of you? Dignity?

Judge : Miss Chee -

CSC : You've given a whole new meaning to the word "dignity", Mr Singh.

Judge : This is not the forum for those sort of questions -

CSC : Perhaps you could create your own Oxford, or -

Judge : Miss Chee -

CSC : Davindar Singh's dictionary. Have you ever taken rides in MRTs, public transport like buses, SMRT, SBS Transit buses, Mr Lee?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : Do you know what it's like for Singaporeans to squeeze like sardines, smell each other's breath in MRTs and have to wait, sometimes for a half hour, for the bus to arrive?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : Do you know what it feels like? (Pause) You've read, I'm sure you have, that Singaporeans go across the causeway to buy medicine despite the promise of health care not being denied to every Singaporean, that many Singaporeans find it unaffordable, or too expensive, to get medical health-care treatment in Singapore?

Singh : Your honour, again I object and I would just say that all my objections are premised on nothing but the law. My duty is to assist the court in terms of what is and is not relevant, and I would not be discharging my duty if I did not opose and attempt to waste the court's time on irrelevant matters.

CSC : Is that question irrelevant?

Judge : I've already said to you, Miss Chee -

CSC : No, no, no, he objected it -

Judge : That this courtroom is not the proper forum for the questions you have asked.

CSC : He objected it but he doesn't make the decision whether it's irrelevant or not. But I've asked the question. You did not say it was sustained until I had to ask you again. Mr Singh stood up, made that objection -

Judge : Question is disallowed.

CSC : So do I take it that every Mr Singh objects, it is automatic that you sustain his objections?

Judge : It depends on your question, Miss Chee.

CSC : And so for every question I've asked has been objected to and you've upheld that -

Judge : Because, like I've said, those questions are not relevant to this courtroom -

CSC : But I've explained to you how relevant it is. Even if it's relevant, your honour, it seems to me that you will say that it's irrelevant. (Pause) Mr Lee, it has been reported that you are paid $3.7 million a year for your role as Prime Minister. Can you confirm that to this court?

Singh : Objection.

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : Do you know, Mr Lee, that you are the highest paid Prime Minister in the world, 6 times more than George Bush. Your salary is equivalent to 8 leaders in the European countries, do you know that?

Singh : Objection, you honour.

CSC : Do you know that you are in the Guiness Book Records for the highest-paid prime minister?

Singh : Objection, your honour. Your honour, it might assist Miss Chee -

CSC : Then -

Singh : If she looks at our written assessment on the assesssment of damages for the striking out of our affidavit, it does set out what under law is permissable as cross-examination -

CSC : You have used the law -

Singh : And the reason -

CSC : To thwart this entire proceeding. I have a few more minutes so please sit down so that I can continue with my questions.

Singh : The reason I do this is because she has a few more minutes and I don't want her to throw those minutes away.

CSC : Thank you very much. Thank you for your consideration. That is the first consideration you've shown in court, albeit one that's veiled.

Singh : There -

CSC : So please sit down. Let me continue with my questioning.

Singh : There are relevant areas that she can inquire into.

CSC : Mr Lee, this trial today is about assessing damages that you will be demanding for. Tell me, how do you assess your worth? Do you assess it according to how much you are paid? How do you assess your worth?

Singh arose.

CSC : Let Mr Lee - he was about to open his mouth and answer it. Please, Mr Singh, you are really making your client look very bad, very very bad.

Singh : Your honour, I just want to say this before the witness respond that Miss Chee may not know but the assessment of damages has nothing to do with one's salary.

Judge : Yes.

LHL : I leave it entirely to the court to assess how much damages is appropriate. There are principles, there are precedents and the arguments have all been made.

CSC : Do you assess your own worth as a public servant? As leader of the country?

Judge : Irrelevant.

CSC : What are you -

CSC : Mr Lee, you had said that as Prime Minister, you lead your government based on honesty, integrity, meritocracy and competence. Am I right?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : Do you believe that cabinet ministers in Singapore, including yourself, have obtained their positions through meritocracy and competence?

LHL : This is a system we work. We strive our best to reach the ideal. We are always trying to improve and do better.

CSC : Thank you. Do you believe that you were appointed Prime Minister on your own merit, in your own competence?

LHL : Yes

CSC : Do you think that if your father had not been the former Prime Minister of Singapore, and that's none other than Mr Lee Kuan Yew, you would still be the Prime Minister of Singapore today?

LHL : It is hypothetical question but I would say yes.

CSC : Well, it's very good to see the leader of the country so confident. Reassuring, really. Apart from yesterday, Mr Lee, have we ever cross roads before? Have we ever met before?

LHL : No, we have not met personally but what I said about your brother Dr Chee Soon Juan applies equally to you.

CSC : That would be? Would you care to repeat?

LHL : That would be I do not know you as an individual personally but I know your public record, what you have done. It doesn't go back quite as far as your brother in 1992 but it's not a short record neither. It extends at least from 1997.

CSC : Alright, thank you for answering with so much depth. If you do not know me on a personal basis, how did you come to make this allegation - because these are very strong words, Mr Lee, very strong words, yup? Do you agree with me? Words like "revulsion", words like "venom". "Venom" - poisonous, "deep-seated hatred", "malice" against you if you do not know me? You said yersterday that one of the reasons you had used these words were because we had unfurled this banner that says "Free Singapore from the Lees" at one of our rallies.

LHL : Yes, there are many reasons and one of the other reason, this defamation case - matter came up, everybody who was involved immediately apologize and explained that they had no intention of saying these things and were not even aware that these things were said, but you and Dr Chee insisted that these statements were totally justified and that you were going to prove your case and that you were going to fight through to the bitter end so I conclude that there is a strong sentiment against me.

CSC : Yes, yes , but unfortunately you have instructed your counsel to ensure that despite words "fight to the bitter end", you've instructed your counsel to ensure that that doesn't happen. Look at all that assessment of damages - all 14 - struck out, AEIC struck out, list of documents struck out, this morning imposing a guillotine which he says that he did it on his own.

LHL : Well, unfortunately, there is a process for settling defamation cases. There is a due process. Each side has to make its filings and the pleadings have to show justification on basis for the defamation and if there is no basis, there is a process for them to be struck out and if they are struck out -

CSC : You see, we were not given the chance to show -

LHL : May I reply, your honour?

CSC : That there was a basis -

Judge : Yes, please continue.

LHL : May I reply, your honour?

CSC : That there was no chance for us to show that there was a basis -

Judge : Continue, Mr Lee, continue.

LHL : There's a process for dealing with pleadings and defences and for defences to be struck out and if the defence is struck out, for an appeal to be filed, in good time, against the striking out action so that the matter can be abjugated at a higher level and in this case, the striking out was ruled and long periods passed and nothing happened until long after the deadline for filing an appeal has passed and then you and your brother, and the SDP decided to file an appeal many months late -

CSC : Mr Lee, I have 5 more minutes. Do not waste my time.

LHL : And therefore, this is the process of the law.

CSC : Alright, thank you. Obviously, you've regurgitated, vomited out everything that Mr Singh has been saying so -

LHL : Your honour, these are facts on the record -

CSC : Your honour, may I please go on. I have 5 more minutes. Thank you. (Pause) Is it not true that your father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was the Prime Minister of Singapore, he's now the Minister Mentor. You are the current Prime Minister and your wife Madam Ho Ching is the CEO of Temasek Holdings, is that true?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

Singh : There's no relevance.

CSC : Mr Lee, do you know the current population in Singapore? Numbers, that is. What is the current population in Singapore?

Singh : What's the relevance of that, your honour?

CSC : Your honour, in his affidavit it says that the New Democrat was widely circulated. I want to establish how widely circulated it is.

Singh : Your honour, it's in their own documents. They said that they sold the New Democrat and circulated it to 5000 people in the heat of the elections.

CSC : So what is the population of Singapore, Mr Lee?

Singh : Again, your honour, I object.

CSC : Your honour, are you sustaining his objection? Are you allowing me that question?

Judge : Yes, allowed, Go on.

CSC : Yes, allowed, Mr Lee?

LHL : The population of Singapore is about 4.6 million people.

CSC : 4.6 million, very good, thank you. Now if you turn with me to page 22 of volume 1 of your AEIC.

LHL : Yes.

CSC : Para 42. The quote there. "A Singapore Democratic Party member told CPJ that the party had sold around 5000 copies of the 10,000 copies printed" and so and so forth. "5000 copies" and you say that the population in Singapore - and it goes on to say next paragraph 43 - that "the words had therefore reach a very large segment of the public". Do your math. Mr Lee, do you have a calculator there?

LHL : No, your honour.

CSC : Then I'm sure your mind is astute enough to do a very simple mathematical - and work it out - what is 5000 out of 4.6 million? I'll give you sometime to do this mental sum thing, you know it's been a long time since we've subjected to that.

LHL : Thank you, your honour. Your honour, the point is not the number of copies but the depth of the circulation -

CSC : No, no, no, no, Mr Lee, I've asked you a question so please, just answer. If you don't know, say you don't know. If you can't work it out in your mind, just say "you can't work it out in your mind". So, my question again, so please direct Mr Lee to answer that question - what is 5, I'm sorry, what is 5000 out of 4.6 million?

Singh : I'm sure Miss Chee knows it because she has calculated it. Maybe she wants to tell us what the number is -

CSC : No, no, leave it. Look, don't answer Mr Lee's question. If Mr Lee cannot answer the question, let him say it for himself, Mr Singh.

Singh : It's not the question of whether he can or cannot answer the question -

CSC : Yes it is -

Singh : It's just the question of saving time-

CSC : It's just a matter of - I've asked Mr Lee a question and the question was directed to him, not to you. So kindly sit down, let Mr Lee continue -

Singh : Your honour -

CSC : Whether or not he knows the answer. If he doesn't know the answer, say so.

Singh : Your honour, I can object to this but I don't want to because it's a number that Miss Chee knows. If she know the number, get on with it, simple as that.

CSC : Mr - yes, as in -

Judge : Do you know the number?

CSC : Are you going to allow Mr Lee to answer that question?

Judge : I haven't object to it, did I?

CSC : I don't know.

Judge : Yes, Mr Lee?

LHL : Your honour, 5000 divided by 4.6 million is about 1 in a 1000. That counts every infant, every foreigner and all those -

CSC : Foreigner? 4.6 -

LHL : Yes, 4.6 million includes non-citizens.

CSC : Thank you. Okay, 1 out of a thousand, that would make it 0.0001?

LHL : I think you have one zero too many.

CSC : So you can answer that question. 0.001% of the population. 0.001 is a "very large segment of the public?" Think. 0.001 of Singaporeans and yet the claim that the New Democrat was "widely circulated", reached a "very large segment of the public." It's very strange that 0.001 constitutes "large segment".

Singh : Is that a question, your honour?

CSC : Now, your AEIC - page 23, could you turn to page 23?

LHL : Yes.

CSC : Beside that, it says - the third line of para 44 - I'll read that out, "the words and, or their gist, were indeed widely and prominently published. they were republished in Straits Times A, Straits Times again B, Straits Times C, New Paper D and Today newspaper E. Do you think the re-publishing of these State-controlled newspapers have reached a larger segment than the New Democrat did?

LHL : Your honour, paragraph 44 is quite clear. The republication was a consequence of the initial publication -

CSC : Can you answer the question? Do you think it reached a wider -

LHL : Yes, of course, therefore "indirectly the initial publication has caused an enormous dissemination" -

CSC : Just answer the question. I don't need you to repeat, or to clarify. Answer the question - if you think that these papers - the re-published articles have reached a larger segment than the New Democrat ever did?

LHL : Yes, of course, as a consequences of the publication of the New Democrat -

CSC : Thank you. Let me go on to the next question -

Singh : Sorry, the answer has yet to be given -

CSC : He has said "yes" so thank you.

Singh : Miss Chee should understand that the witness is allowed to answer the question -

CSC : He has answered the question, thank you.

Singh : Your honour, may I have permission for Mr Lee to complete his answer?

LHL : Your honour, Miss Chee is trying to establish that she is not answerable for the subsequent publication in the Straits Times -

CSC : You do not know what I'm trying to establish. Please don't claim to know -

LHL : That is a matter of law the lawyers will argue -

CSC : Thank you, so why bring it up when you're on the witness stand -

LHL : And I think that is a matter of fact -

CSC : And not as a lawyer but as a plaintiff? (Pause) Right, let me go on to the next question. Page 59 of AEIC.

LHL: Yes.

CSC : Paragraph 139. You have said -

LHL : Sorry, 139? 140?

CSC : Okay, I'm sorry. Yes, my apologies, 140. It said that "every step of the way, CSJ and CSC have attempted to use and abuse the court process to attack me for their own political ends. They did so by publishing the most outlandish statements about me. Would you care to recall what some of these "outlandish" statements or remarks were?

LHL : They are listed in paragraph 141, 142 and 143 and 144 and 145 and many other paragraphs.

CSC : Those are just reports, right? The newspapers -

LHL : And if there's any doubt, your conduct and Dr Chee's conduct this morning leaves no doubt that -

CSC : I have not asked that of you - Mr Lee, please answer the question - what were the "outlandish" remarks -

Singh : Your honour, the answer -

CSC : Statements that -

LHL : Your honour, the answer is in my affidavit.

CSC : No, it is not. Could you please tell the court what were the "outlandish" remarks that you claimed that we have made against you? Conduct, remarks - two different things. And I'm sure we all know this. I'm asking you could you quote from that - you said that it's found in 141, 142, 143 - please quote to us, to me, what some of these "outlandish" remarks that you claimed that we have made against you, please?

Singh : Your honour, if this this cross-examination is to credit, the answer has already been given and as I demonstrated by the authorities yesterday, they must accept the answer. If they don't like it, they can submit on it. But the answer has already been given and your honour, the guillotine fell about 7 minutes ago, your honour. So Miss Chee should be reminded that she's well past her time.

Judge : Yes, Miss Chee?

CSC : Are you allowing me to continue?

Judge : Question is disallowed.

CSC : Mr Lee, Mr Francis Seow had said the ministers in Singapore, and that includes you, are not worth a cent that they are paid. Do you agree?

Singh : I object, your honour, Mr Francis Seow doesn't have the guts to turn up in court himself so he shouldn't use the -

CSC : Let us not take pot-shots -

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : At the person who is not in court. I'm sorry, your honour.

Judge : Question disllowed.

CSC : Do you sleep well at night, Mr Lee?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

CSC : Do you know that as the leader of the country that your government deprives Singaporeans of much-needed welfare for the poor, the elderly and the infirm, that HDB prices are artificially inflated, and that many of us are not able to draw on our CPF savings even though we have tens of thousands of dollars in there and all this time, when Singaporeans are left rather ignored -

Singh : Objection, your honour.

CSC : By the government -

Judge : Sustained.

CSC : While you live your life as a millionaire minister?

Singh : Objection, your honour. This is a classic example of the abuse that I had referred to earlier where now that your honour has given them the indulgence of a bit more time, it's been abused for the purpose of making all sorts of wild, unsubstantiated, and speculative allegations.

Judge : Two minutes more, Miss Chee.

CSC : I would like to pass on this report that we have here. It goes into assessing the quantum of damages because this report talks about - Well, why don't I circulate this report and we'll talk about -

Singh : Your honour, I like to see a copy of the document so that I can assist the court?

CSC : Certainly, I have made quite enough copies. You need a couple of minutes to digest that?

Singh : No your honour, I don't need a couple of minutes to digest that. Your honour, it is completely irrelevant as your honour would see. It has to do with the issue of salaries which your honour has already ruled on. It is also a reliance on specific instance which is irrelevant. It's well past the point of liability as well, your honour, so for all those reasons I object. Your honour, I have no objection in principle of documents being produced in the course of evidence-in-chief of cross-examination but they have to be relevant and this isn't.

Judge : Yes. Miss Chee, you want to demonstrate relevance?

CSC : Like I said, if you look at the last paragraph of the article - for continuation, let me read a couple of paragraphs before that. Fourth paragraph, or third paragraph, rather, from the bottom. "German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Ford's most powerful woman for the second straight year and who recently was critical of excessive executive salaries in the private sector, is paid around $318, 000" and these are U.S. dollars I believe they are talking about. "In Japan, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last September that he would take 30% on his salary, $355, 000, and that other ministers would give up 10% of their pay but the top of the three, by some degree, is Singapore's Premier Lee Hsien Loong, who following a controversial round of pay increases, is said to be receiving a salary of $2.05 million, which is equivalent to $3.5 million dollars by the end of next year. While the rational of the increase was, as the Hague group found in its research, the need to keep government salaries competitive, Mr Lee said that he would donate his raise to charity." Oh, by the way, have you, Mr Lee, donated your pay increase to charity?

LHL : Yes, your honour.

Judge : Miss Chee, that's irrelevant. The time's up.

CSC : I still have one question to -

Judge : Alright. Just one last question.

CSC : So Mr Lee, do you agree that, as Forbes has pointed out, that you are the highest-paid leader of a country in the world.

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

Singh : Your honour, in re-examination, because Mr Lee was not given the opportunity to explain the answer by Miss Chee. Can you turn to your affidavit at paragraphs 42 and 43, page 22.

LHL : Yup.

Singh : It was suggested to you that only 5000 copies were circulated and therefore that's inconsequential. What do you have to say to that?

LHL : First of all, I do not know how many people read those 5000 copies because each copy could have been circulated to many readers. Secondly, each time the same copy was sold, the same libel is being repeated and broadcasted to a crowd because this was not just a distribution from a shop but Dr Chee, Miss Chee and several others going around looping it about as broadly as possible, as loudly as possible to achieve as much impact as possible. And thirdly, similar allegations went on to the website where I have no doubt, further eyeballs would have seen them. So I think 5000 copies is not a measure of how many people read these libels. Or, the word of mouth after the article have been read, circulating in the grapevine, in the coffeeshops, poisonoulsy distorted, more and more lurid, more and more damaging, impossible to trace except in court where the truth will out.

Singh : Thank you, I've no further questions, your honour.

Judge : Yes, the witness is released.

Singh : Thank you, Mr Lee.




PART lll






Anonymous said...

Thank you. Very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Singh,

I agree that many Singaporeans have voted for the PAP. But that doesn't imply that the PAP can make use of majority vote to say that we Singaporeans have given PAP a blank cheque to do anything that they wishes.

If that is the case, then can PAP please remember to include "Fixing, jailing and bankrupting political opponents" as one of their party manifesto.

Pat Coleman said...

You wont find it hard to beleive that i sympathise with your predicament. Pat Coleman

To The Prime Minister of Australia
Mr Kevin Rudd
Parliament House ACT

Re: Coleman v Australia, Communication 1157/2003 United Nations Human Rights Committee Decision July Session 2006.

Dear Mr Rudd

Mr Rudd, I am a Townsville activist who has been involved in environmental and social activism since around 1997. In December 1998 I read out the universal declaration of human rights and publicly criticised the Howard government on native title matters and also criticised the then Labor dominated Townsville City Council on its suppression of free speech in the Flinders Pedestrian mall. I had stood on a cement table in the mall and given a long speech before leaving.

I was charged with an unlawful public address under s8 (2) (e) of Chapter 39 of the Townsville City Council’s by-laws. I was convicted, fined $300 or 10 days in gaol, and ordered to pay $3035 costs or 101 days in gaol. I refused to pay and fought the matter to the high court where I lost. I was gaoled for 5 days for refusing to pay the fine after being arrested on a warrant. I got convicted for sitting on the ground (obstruct police) during that arrest and was also convicted and fined for that. I appealed to the UNHRC under the 1st optional protocol to the ICCPR, but in between this I was bankrupted by the council for the costs.

In July 2006 the UNHRC found that my right to freedom of expression had been violated by Australia and I was entitled to have my convictions quashed, all costs returned and to be compensated for my arrest and time in gaol ( pp 70-79) .

Both I and the Howard government were under the impression that the Qld court of appeal had overturned the order for the costs of $3035 from the Magistrates Court (see the chronology of the governments reply to my complaint p 27). Apparently this was not the case and a couple of months ago, the state penalties and enforcement register took my $3035 and gave it to the council. This caused me much anger.

I have written to the Qld government asking for the UNHRC decision to be upheld and a reply through independent Liz Cunningham said they regarded it as a federal matter ( at pp 80-82) . A number of Questions on notice to the attorney general by Sen. Kerry Nettle were answered by the former Justice Minister Chris Ellison, and he said it was a state matter ( at pp 83-85), and the Howard government’s reply to the UNHRC said that they regarded the mall as a place for shopping and they would not do what the committee asked p 94-99) . I wrote to your new Attorney General Mr McClelland pointing out chapter 13 of the Labor party’s election platform 2007, regarding implementation of UN human rights instruments and he said he agreed with the Howard governments response. He also said I might like to make a submission to your upcoming human rights inquiry which he downplayed to a “consultation” ( at 85-86) .

Prime Minister, I have done everything I had to do, following the procedures set down for appealing to the high court and then the UNHRC, and the gaol posts keep shifting.

You will note that the government response to the UNHRC decision is against giving speeches and demonstrating in the mall without a permit. You will note from the High Court decision that I could have given a speech, on a Sunday, without a permit under s8 (1) of the by-laws if I did it from a booth, “as little as a table and chair – a milk crate and umbrella” ( at p14). You will note from the evidence attached to my reply to the government response to my complaint that the council and police would not allow even this and a public letter writing campaign was initiated .The UNHRC acknowledged that this resulted in the council placing a ‘speakers stone’ in the mall ( at pp5-20 and 59-66) . This was used by former labor leader Kim Beazley during the republic campaign of 99. The council responded to those letters however, that they would continue to suppress people setting up stalls for political purposes without a permit. I had no choice but to engage in a defiant free speech campaign and to do what I did. Since my campaign the council has backed off completely on the issue of booths without a permit and there was therefore no further need to be loud, since myself and others had been left alone. It also took beating trumped up charges by the cops and suing them for false imprisonment to get them to back off (including being unlawfully arrested for petitioning for those letters).

Mr Rudd, I would also like to point out that this matter is similar to what occurred in Velichkin v Belarus (Communication 1022/2001 UNHRC decision 20/10/2005 at 88-93 ). There a man handed out the text of the Universal Declaration and got charged and massively fined. Our representative to the UNHRC Mr Ivan Shearer was a party to the UNHRCs decision in favour of Mr Velichkin, to the effect that his right to Freedom of Expression under Article 19(2) of the ICCPR had been violated and that he be given compensation not less than his fines and costs. He had not been arrested on this occaision.

But, that’s Belarus and this is Australia isn’t it Mr Rudd, it couldn’t happen here? But if it did then surely a Prime Minister would not do and say the opposite to what our own representative at the UNHRC would do? Surely not! That would amount to Orwellian doublespeak wouldn’t it Mr Rudd?

Mr Rudd, all of the information you will need to base your decision is contained in the documents provided to you. The current stance of your government on this matter which is the same as Howards -is against the high court decision as well as that of the UNHRC. Should I have been punished for (as the evidence shows) trying to apply the law and for strengthening the rights of the people of Townsville?

Right through this episode I have been met with “Catch 22” after “Catch 22”. If the consequences to my life and my liberty weren’t so bad Prime Minister, this would make a good cynical political comedy , so much so that not only am I putting all the relevant documents on a website, I am going to send them to the ABC Drama/comedy department together with any response of yours to this letter. You could make it even more cynical and funny if you say you won’t overturn Mr McClelland’s decision and again refer me to your human rights “consultation”. I know what Sir Humphrey Appleby would say: “Yes Prime Minister –Never hold an inquiry unless you already know the outcome!”

You have visited the Flinders Mall Townsville prior to the election, and well know that it is a public pedestrian mall with a centre stage forum. You and your colleagues have also , I believe , conducted television interviews in this mall without a council permit and have also therefore addressed the media and through them the public . The media used amplification devices such as microphones. As Justice Muir said in the Qld Court of appeal decision, you and the media would have been guilty of an offence under the by-law. ( p50, pars [48]-[49])

Can I assume;

(a) That you will hand yourself in to be charged if you don’t overturn Mr McClelland’s decision? ; and
(b) That because Australia is under an obligation to uphold the UNHRC’s decision in this matter as a result of our being a party to the 1st optional protocol , you may be honest and withdraw Australia from it because we aren’t actually going to uphold it at all?
(c) That Australia will make a statement to the international community that we just want to make other countries look bad on the world stage but want a blind eye turned to us?

Or Mr Rudd, are you going to surprise me and do something democratic and comply with the UNHRC decision.

Citizen Rudd, you may very well argue that you don’t like the tone of this letter and the cynical way it has been drafted. You may argue that it sounds like I have already prejudged you and possibly any decision that you may make. All I can say is that you should feel free to surprise me. Oh, and in case you forgot, I have taken the liberty of copying below ss1. In part and ss4. Of Chapter 13 of the Labor Party Platform and Constitution 2007 (Principles).
1. Principles
1. Labor is committed to supporting the international human rights instruments to which Australia is a signatory including:
o The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
o The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
4. Labor supports both the promotion of human rights internationally and the development of international standards and mechanisms for the protection and enforcement of these rights. Labor will adhere to Australia's international human rights obligations and will seek to have them incorporated into the domestic law of Australia and taken into account in administrative decision making.

Other Documents Relating to the Matter in the Qld Courts

Weblinks to
Coleman v Australia and Government response, including other decisions of the committee that have been ignored :

Velichkin v Belarus

Citizen Pat Coleman

Anonymous said...

Twist in the tale now! MM Lee's press secretary, in a reply to WSJ, is claiming that Dr. Chee in open court then called the Singapore leaders "murderers, robbers, child molesters" and "rapists."

Those of you who attended the trial can verify whether the press sec's claim is true?


Very informative! Good work!