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.

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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?

(Pause)

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 -

(Pause)

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.

(Pause)

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.

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This concludes my series of transcripts of what I believe are the more dramatic exchanges during Lees vs Chees trial.

I would upload all the audio clips if not for the fact that the audio files obtained from the High Court are broken up into dozens of 10 minute segments. Plus, they are encoded in a way which is only playable in Record Player, for which the application is included in the CD. If you wish to help re-encode all the files for upload yourself, do email me. Otherwise, SDP has been slowly uploading some of the files.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Transcript part V : CSJ vs LKY

"If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?… If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself."

- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955

If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought.

- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, April 27, 1955

"Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they're conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict."

- Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition PAP member speaking to David Marshall, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Debates, 4 October, 1956

_________________________________________________________________

The final instalment of the courtroom clash between Lee Kuan Yew and Chee Soon Juan. Transcript courtesy of yours truly. Continues from Part lV.

CSJ : You had mentioned, Mr Lee, that there were two ways of gaining political power. You had said something about being not a bankrupt so that you can stand for elections and then the other method you said was through constitutional means, through -

LKY : Through unconstitutional means.

CSJ : The other way? No, I think you meant through constitutional means.

Singh : If Dr Chee would stop talking and start listening, he would have heard that what the witness said was either do it be constitutional means, i.e through parliament by not being a bankrupt or violently, illegally.

CSJ : Thank you. I appreciate your assistance on this matter. I agree. I completely agree with you, Mr Lee -

LKY : May I -

CSJ : That constitutional means is the way to go -

Singh : No, no, no -

CSJ : But the funny thing, your honour -

Singh : What is the question? It's not whether it's a funny thing or not. The only thing funny with (inaudible) are the speeches coming out -

CSJ : Mr Lee, Mr Lee -

Singh : Your honour, can I ask for a ruling that Dr Chee (inaudible) the questions because in the last -

CSJ : The constitution allows us freedom of speech, assembly and association -

Judge : Dr Chee!

CSJ : And you have completely butchered all that!

Judge : Dr Chee, the last question, if that can be a question, is completely irrelevant as far as this court is concerned. I've already said those sort of questions are not for this courtroom. He's here to assess to the damages.

CSJ : Point taken, your honour. And this is what I'm trying to derive at -

Judge : Now 2.40. I've given you the indulgence. I don't know if Miss Chee wishes to ask questions. I assume you are eating into her time.

CSJ : All that I'm saying right now is, your honour, Mr Lee has made this point that to gain political power there are certain rules and those rules are set in the constitution. And I'm saying that I agree with it. Those rules were not written by me. Those rules were written by the British, and which Mr Lee agreed to. Now in one of those rules there, it says citizens of Singapore are guaranteed the freedom of speech, association and assembly -

Singh : What is the question?

CSJ : Right now, why is Mr Lee changing those rules? Because when I begin to exercise these freedoms of speech and assembly -

Singh : If that's the question, the witness will answer the question.

CSJ : We get arrested. Tell us right now, are you up for a free and fair fight during elections?

LKY : I do not know -

CSJ : In a constitutional manner.

LKY : There is nothing to hinder an opposition party in Singapore from -

CSJ : I beg your pardon. There's everything that will hinder an opposition party.

LKY : The SDP was doing very well under Chiam See Tong and at one time captured three seats and it became the de-facto leader. You came in and destroy the SDP -

CSJ : Don't change subject, Mr Lee. Don't change the subject.

LKY : As a result, because you had destroyed the standing of the SDP, the Workers' Party has become the de-facto leader of the opposition. That's an open con-(inaudible). The Workers' Party has won the elections, Mr Chiam in his personal capacity has continually and repeatedly won the elections without defaming anybody.

CSJ : You see, Mr Lee, when I talk about -

LKY : Low Thia Kiang has not defame anybody, not defame the government, neither has Chiam See Tong and they have won successive by-elections but you have lost successively because we have disproved to the people that you are not to be believed.

CSJ : You see, Mr Lee, when I ask you about freedoms of speech, assembly-

LKY : That is the whole purpose of this exchange in this court -

CSJ : When I ask you about the freedoms of speech, assembly and association -

LKY : We have heard all that -

CSJ : I don't just mean political parties. I mean citizens of Singapore. Even a citizen of this country who is not a member of a political party has the right to freedom of speech, association and assembly -

Singh : And the question is, your honour?

CSJ : Would you allow these people their rights or are you going to sit there and continue to curtail their rights? Simple answer, Mr Lee, you know -

Judge : Irrelevant. Disallowed. This is not the court to answer.

CSJ : You are intelligent. You know what freedom of speech is. You know what freedom of assembly is.

Judge : Dr Chee, I've already ruled. Please continue with the next question.

CSJ : Yes, will you allow more than five people to assemble in an public area?

LKY : These -

Judge : Irrelevant.

LKY : Your honour, these rules were in existence before the PAP took office. They have remained on our statute book, or rather in regulations under the statutes.

CSJ : And you are saying that these rules before the PAP. Which was the government before the PAP? The British, I assume.

LKY : No, before the -

CSJ : Mr Lee, let me ask you. Was the British a colonial government?

Judge : Mr Lee, it is not for you to answer that question.

CSJ : He's made that point and I'm just clarifying that point. Your honour, you see, Mr Lee -

Judge : I've already ruled.

CSJ : Your honour, hear me out. Mr Lee makes his point that his party, his government, did not come up with these rules. I say fine. Who came up with these rules then? The British came up with these rules. The point that I want to establish is the British was an undemocratic government. Mr Lee is making my point right now that by continuing these undemocratic rules, Singapore has been governed in a very undemocratic way. And when you govern Singapore in an undemocratic way, you try to tell this court here that my reputation is A-One, you have a problem.

LKY : I -

CSJ : But if Mr George Bush or Mr Gordon Brown or any leader in the democratic world stands up and says, "if I can garner 80% of the votes", yes, that would be something. But not in a society where you controlled the press, and I remember, Mr Lee, whether you do or not I don't know, but when you said about the -

Singh : Your honour, how long do we have to listen to this because Dr Chee is not prepared to listen -

CSJ : The media, the press, being controlled to the point where they begin to be sycophants -

Judge : I've taken (inaudible) of Mr Chee's conduct which I will deal with on Wednesday.

Singh : Thank you, your honour.

CSJ : Mr Lee, would you then respond?

Judge : The witness is not required to answer. Question is totally irrelevant to the assessment of damages. I have repeated myself many times.

CSJ : Mr Lee -

Judge : It's 2.45.

CSJ : I'm sorry?

Judge : It's 2.45 now.

CSJ : Mr Lee, let's continue on because this is a very important national matter.

Judge : Not for this court, Dr Chee.

CSJ : Your honour -

Judge : (inaudible) Take it outside this courtroom. My ruling -

CSJ : But, no. Hold on. Wait, wait. Your honour, Mr Lee is saying that his reputation is very important because it is national matter and in that context I'm trying to deal with. If he didn't say that his reputation is of national priority, then there is no issue. But right now, Mr Lee has made that point and Mr Lee has continued to want to defend, then let me then question him as well. (Pause) Mr Lee, you had some point said that the PAP, I take it a lot of times it is you, that said that "we have engineered elections that would make Singaporeans stupid to want to vote us out." What do you mean by that, Mr Lee?

LKY : We have given Singaporeans something that we've never had before. Singapore society which is now well-educated, 20% of them in tertiary institutions, 40% of them in polytechnics, another 20% in ITE, everybody owns a home, everybody has got proper medical care and everybody is catered for and looked after. If they were not catered for and looked after, they wouldn't have voted for this government to be re-elected. It's as simple as that. The final test is not what Mr Chee says or what I say but the reality on the ground. Have we created Singapore better than 1959? When the Prime Minister goes for elections in a few years time, whether he wins or loses depends on whether the people believe they're worse off or better off. It's as simple as that. This is the acid test.

CSJ : Sure, sure, but unfortunately Mr Lee, it is not as simple as that because if you're saying that the acid test is whether people feel they benefited from your system, then why is it, Mr Lee, that even you and the current Senior Minister continue to lament that Singaporeans are leaving Singapore in droves. Let me cite you a statistic that I didn't do the study - it was your press that did it - cited that 50% of young Singaporeans didn't feel that they were patriotic to this country. Can you explain when you say to Singaporeans that you've done so well, provided so much for them, and yet - now you have 50 years, no interruptions, there was never any change in governments in between, so you had an uninterrupted period of rule in Singapore, yet at the end of the road, you come to a situation where your young cannot wait to want to get out when they have a chance and tell you "we don't feel patriotic at all to this country." Have you failed, Mr Lee?

LKY : I am not aware of this particular survey, how wide it is, and I'm not particularly moved one way or the other. The final test is - are they leaving permanently? Because that's what they can do. We have educated them to a point where those in the top 20% with tertiary qualifications can go to any English-speaking country and find a job. That is the acid test and that goes on all the time.

CSJ : Mr Lee, I am trying to tell that your worry is that they are leaving permanently, they are not coming back, they are even willing to break their bonds because they don't want to continue living in a society which you have created. They don't want to live in this society which they don't feel a sense of belonging. They don't want to live in a society where they have no say, that come elections, everything is railroaded, and they don't have a way that they can pick their leaders.

LKY : Therefore, I advise you to find some way, get your NGO supporters, to discharge you from your bankruptcy, then you would be able to campaign against us.

CSJ : Mr Lee, how do I campaign against you when at every turn of the way, you put a stop to it? One way that I can campaign is through the media. You control it. One way that I can campaign is to get down to the street and talk to voters. You arrest me. One way that I can campaign is through my party's newspaper. You sue us. Tell me, apart from using this word "campaign" in the most frivolous, the most egregious of manner, how do we campaign when you, sitting in the Istana, makes sure opposition parties can never, never compete on an equal footing?

LKY : In no country is it the duty of the government to build the opposition. And the fact that opposition leaders can get elected, re-elected and re-elected, despite very riogorous campaigning against them by leaders of the PAP, proves that they know when they decide that they want this man, they will vote for him.

CSJ : I'm not asking you to build up the opposition -

LKY : I am suggesting to Dr Chee that if he follows the constitutional route, with his eloquence, if he can establish credibility with his eloquence, he has a better chance than Mr Low Thia Kiang or Mr Chiam See Tong. But if he has got no credibility, and the proceedings in the last two days would not have been unnoticed, the press is here, public is here. You have come and try to degrade the proceedings, you have come to make an abuse of the processes of this court. The judge is in charge. The judge knows you can appeal against her judgements. The judge can given you all the opportunities to tie yourself up. That is my reading of what is going on in this court.

CSJ : You see, Mr Lee, the opposition has never made the case that you as the ruling party -

Judge : Mr Chee.

CSJ : He has made a point, your honour, and I like to respond. And that is that - you see, your honour.

Singh : (inaudible) it fails on all grounds of cross-examination, on irrelevance that really, we've past I think a long time ago, I think just as the cross-examination started, your honour.

CSJ : Would you agree - I move on to my next question, your honour.

Singh : He's got an answer now and so he cannot challenge that answer.

CSJ : Would you agree, Mr Lee - are you saying, you telling the courts right now that the government has not hampered the opposition in any way?

Judge : Mr Chee, I do not wish to hear that line of questioning any more -

CSJ : Your honour, I'm just trying to make this point -

Judge : It is totally irrelevant. What I have to decide on -

CSJ : Yes, your honour. Let me make this point. Mr Lee has brought up -

Judge : One minute more.

CSJ : The point that I am asking -

Judge : You have one minute to ask the last question.

CSJ : The government should make it easy for the opposition and my point is no. All we asking for the government to come to a set of rules -

Judge : Not relevant. I've already said, Dr Chee. If you wish this line of questioning, do it outside my courtroom!

CSJ : Yes, your honour, what I'm trying to tell you is that it goes to his reputation. It's what I'm here for. (inaudible)

Judge : It's completely irrelevant. I have ruled on this. Dr Chee, if you persist -

(Pause)

CSJ : If you believe that if the public was to have a free say in the running of this country -

Singh : Your honour, same objection. You honour has already ruled earlier on the same point. The question is being repeated again and again.

CSJ : No, your honour. It's something - again as I said makes a lot of difference whether Mr Lee - when he says that his reputation is of a certain standard, that he must, he must then have the courage to be able to face reality and not hide behind, take refuge, in a system that has been designed to ensure that the reputation remains up there, regardless of reality.

Singh : That was in the affidavit which was struck out, your honour.

CSJ : Yes, I think Mr Lee has made an attempt to answer. Mr Lee?

LKY : I do not want to waste more of the time of the court that's not relevant to this case but may I add that my reputation has been established over a period of 50 years, 49 years in government, and 4 and a half years as the leader of the opposition.

CSJ : All good?

LKY : It is not for me to say it is all good or bad.

CSJ : Would you agree that it's a mixture of good and bad?

Judge : Dr Chee -

LKY : Will you allow me to - you've asked me for an answer and I am giving it to you but if its not to your liking, I'm sorry, but you will have to hear me out. At the end of the day, my job is done. I've passed power on and I'm just Minister Mentor. I'm a data-bank. I have no purpose then to see that the system which I've set in place continues to the benefit of Singapore, and part of the proceedings, the painful process is to go through this exercise when you have no questions and you're running away from it. Because at the end of the day, it's not just as you pointed out and Mr Ravi as the SDP counsel submitted, it is the wider public. I'm conscious of that. I think sometimes, you are not.

CSJ : If you are talking about the wider public, Mr Lee, then you must also realise that -

Judge : No more questions.

CSJ : The wider public wants you to leave the political stage. Would you agree?

Judge : He's not required to answer.

This marks the end of the of Chee Soon Juan's cross-examination of Lee Kuan Yew. The next next defendent, Chee Siok Chin, was only given 10 minutes to query Lee.

Next in Part Vl, the full transcript of Chee Siok Chin's earlier cross-examination of Lee Hsien Loong. That's a real classic. Do check back.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Transcript part lV : CSJ vs LKY




More transcript of the cross-examination of Lee Kuan Yew by Chee Soon Juan. The transcript is courtesy of yours truly and is based on the digital recodings obtained from the High Court.

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CSJ : Mr Lee, turn with me to your AEIC. Did you or did you not say that "CSJ harbours a deep-seated hatred for me?"

LKY : Yes, I saw that affidavit.

CSJ : Good. That's right, okay.

LKY : And you are manifesting it in court today.

CSJ : On the contrary, Mr Lee, I don't hate you. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I don't hate you. I feel sorry for you. I think you cut a pitiable figure but I don't hate you. You see, I think you derive a lot of pleasure from what you do but I don't think that you find any joy in life.

Singh : What's the question? Can I ask the witness, can I ask Dr Chee to frame his question?

CSJ : For me, your honour -

Singh : Dr Chee should get on with the questions, if he has any. If not he should honourably say "no further questions", your honour.

CSJ : The whole entire matter rests because you want to turn this fight into one of a personal duel. I'm not interested. What I'm interested in is justice, the rule of law, because ultimately it is not about you, Mr Lee. It is not about me. It's about the people of Singapore, it is about this country and everything we stand for. You and I will pass on but I can tell you, the practice of the rule of law, the entire concept of justice, democracy - that is going to last for all eternity.

LKY : Your honour, the International Bar Association decided to honour Singapore and hold its annual conference in this city and you were given an opportunity to present your case, with your complaint that Singapore lack the rule of law. There were some 3000 lawyers there. I think they left Singapore with a very different impression from what you have projected because we have a letter from the President of the International Bar Association to the organisers, namely the Law Society of Singapore, how successful the meeting was and how impressed they were by the standards they found to obtain in the judiciary -

CSJ : Standards of the MRT or standards of the rule of law?

LKY : Standards of the rule of law and the judges, the meritocracy which is practised throughout the judiciary.

CSJ : What about the International Commission of Jurists? Do you have any comment on them?

LKY : There are Western organisations who believe you should only progress and become prosperous by being democratic in their particular way, their prescription -

CSJ : Is the International Bar Association an Asian organisation?

LKY : It is an international organisation.

CSJ : Thank you. So you have international organisation and international organisation. You pick one and you don't pick the other.

LKY : No, we pick those who will make Singapore strong and prosperous. We do not follow -

CSJ : No, you pick those which will make you look good.

LKY : No, on the contrary, if those - the attributes that we go for, meritocracy, integrity, the education of the people, the quality of life of the people, facilities that we give them to advance - if those were missing, then all the indicators will soon turn downhill. One reason why we had allowed this altercation to go on is because we are leaning over backwards to allow you enough rope to tie yourself up, and you have successfully done that.

CSJ : You see, Mr Lee -

LKY : You have a guillotine. You know you have the time of two hours and you are wasting it, frittering it because you have nothing of substance to confront me with.

CSJ : You see, I had dinner with the Executive Director of the International Bar Association and I have correspondence with them as well. At the end of the Rule of Law Symposium which you were referring to, many of the participants came away very unhappy that the International Bar Association had held its meeting here. And I want to remind you that it continues to be a problem and I believe that the International Bar Association is watching this event very closely.

LKY : I'm sure they are and if you were present at my address to the International Bar Association.

CSJ : No, I was not present because you know why?

LKY : You will know that there was an approbation, and not a disapprobation. I don't have to quote private dinner conversations. That was a public event with 3000 international lawyers there.

CSJ : Then also tell me -

LKY : May I also add that several of them, including Third World countries have come up and asked to see me, including the Governor of Lagos, to ask me if I could go there and address their International Bar Association.

CSJ : Yes, and Mr Lee, were those the same participants that attended the Rule of Law symposium and when I stood up to speak, when Mr Jayakumar was present, and the Chair wanted to cut me off and when I turned to the audience, and we said about 3000 or so, and I asked them, "Do you want to hear the rest of the story of the other Singapore?", there was loud and susutained applause to the extent that Mr Frank Kneed (check spelling), the Chairman, had no choice but to allow me to continue. Will you then take it that this same group of lawyers had wanted to hear how the law in Singapore has been misused, has been abused, that frankly, there is no rule of law in Singapore.

LKY : That's contrary to all the assessments and if you look at the publication, I can't remember the title that the Supreme Court puts out, there's a whole series of assessment made by seven or eight international rating agencies about Singapore. Also may I add the World Bank has recommended and in fact brought many delegations from many countries to study how the judiciary and the judicial system has progressed in Singapore and is now cited as a model.

CSJ : Is this the same World Bank that came and said that Singapore had brought this upon itself when it tried to restrict accredited NGO activists, accredited with the World Bank, coming into Singapore and conducting its activities. Is this the same World Bank that you are talking about?

LKY : We do not comply with every request being made because there are certain things which we believe we know better.

CSJ : Mr Lee, but your government has given the World Bank the green light -

LKY : No, just a moment, let me finish. You have asked me this question. Let me finish. If the World Bank did not hold Singapore's judicial system in high esteem, it would not have come out with that report nor would they have brought delegations to come and study us.

CSJ : That is not my question, Mr Lee.

LKY : And there are endless delegations which have come to study our system -

CSJ : That was not my question, Mr Lee. You brought up the World Bank. I'm asking you, that World Bank that came and said that Singapore should have let in these accredited NGOs because, listen very carefully, because the Singapore Government had an agreement with World Bank to let them in and it was upon the very last minute that someone in your cabinet made that decision to say no.

LKY : I do not attend to these matters anymore. I'm only the Minister Mentor. I'm not in charge but I do know that we act in accordance with what we think is the best practice for Singapore and when we disagree with a particular prescription of how we should behave, or how we should conduct Singapore, we have to decide whether that is applicable.

CSJ : I understand.

LKY : And I know that there many liberal NGOs who are extremely uncomfortable that a system in Singapore which does not comply with their prescriptions is still up and standing and thriving.

CSJ : Yes, Mr Lee, these NGOs were accredited with the World Bank -

Judge : Dr Chee, I'm going to stop this line of cross-examination. It doesn't get us anywhere on the assessment of damages.

CSJ : Okay, alright, let me move on, you honour. You have a situation where you are again claiming that your integrity is of the highest order, would you agree with that, Mr Lee?

LKY : That is the position that I have taken the day I took office in June 1959. I spent more than 50 years of, I would say 49 years of my life, being involved in the strengthening of the system and the institutions that would sustain itself even if there were flaws in the human beings that run the system. That is the reason why we are still what we are.

CSJ : I am impressed. Now -

LKY : Now, if you are impressed, Mr Chee, you would not have made these allegations.

CSJ : Mr Lee, is this the same integrity that you are talking about where now, declassified documents from London, that you have -

Judge : Irrelevant. Mr Lee is not required to answer.

CSJ : He's talking about integrity and I would like - Your honour, he has brought up integrity and I just want to be able to pursue that line just a little bit more. Is this the same integrity -

Singh : Your honour, are you objecting to the line of questioning?

CSJ : That you are referring to, Mr Lee, where now we begin to know, and as a young man I didn't -

Judhe : Question is disallowed.

CSJ : As a young man I believed you. But now I'm reading declassified documents from London saying that somehow, Mr Lim Chin Siong was in his

Singh : Your honour, (inaudible) stop

Judge : Dr Chee.

CSJ : Political situation -

Judge : Question disallowed.

CSJ : And that somehow, you had - I beg your pardon, your honour.

Judge : Question is disallowed.

CSJ : You haven't even heard my question yet. I'll make my question and then you can disallow it, your honour.

Singh : The question is irrelevant on the little that we already know about it relates to specific instances which absolutely -

CSJ : That when you went to London -

Singh : Your honour, I would ask Dr Chee to show some respect to this court.

CSJ : You had allowed what you called "subversive (inaudible)

Judge : The question is disallowed.

CSJ : To come in play (inaudible) Mr Lim would have been disqualified.

Judge : Dr Chee!

CSJ : Your honour, I'm just trying to get at this fact that Mr Lee uses the word integrity and I want to show the courts right now that Mr Lee came into power because of certain things -

Judge : Not relevant to the assessment of damages.

CSJ : That his government did which deprived his political opponents -

Judge : Move on, please!

CSJ : Of challenging him. Will you answer that, Mr Lee?

Judge : The witness is not required to answer.

CSJ : You don't want to answer that, Mr Lee?

Judge : He's not required to answer.

CSJ : That settles the point, doesn't it? Mr Lee, let me come to -

Judge : You're -

CSJ : I have some more questions, your honour. Mr Lee, will you say categorically, right now, that you will allow a full and fair investigations into all your Internal Security Act detentions over the years?

Singh : Objection, your honour.

Judge : Sustained.

CSJ : Mr Lee, it goes to your integrity. This is what I'm saying. That you say your government has lasted for all these years - you cited 1959 and you brought it up until now - and I'm trying to make the case that no, it was not just popular support. If it was that, grant you, your reputation is of the highest order. What I'm trying to make the case right now is that you had all this power at your disposal, you abused it, used that to lock away all your political opponents -

Singh : Objection, your honour.

CSJ : Used that to crush independent and free media. You used that to make elections almost uncontestable for us and then you stand before the courts and tell the court that my reputation is sterling and I'm saying, Mr Lee, have some humility, have some sense of shame, that you are able to put this into context about everything that you've done in your life and then come clean and tell us the truth right now, that you did all these things.

Judge : Irrelevant, move on.

CSJ : No response, Mr Lee?

Judge : Witness is not required to answer.

CSJ : I thought so. Now Mr Lee, you had your Press Secretary issued a statement, I think it was last Friday -

Singh : Your honour has already ruled on this point in the cros-examination of Mr Lee Hsien Loong -

CSJ : Did you or did you not allow your press secretary to make this statement because if you did, then we have a problem here, because Madam Yeong, Madam Yong I beg your pardon, is a civil servant. You are suing me, the party and Miss Chee Siok Chin in your private capacity, and if you are doing it in your private capacity, but then you've gotten a civil servant to issue press statements such as this on your behalf using taxpayers' money, on State time, then I think there is a big problem here.

LKY : There is no problem at all. I have already stated that technically in accordance to the law I have to sue in my personal capacity with the Prime Minister. But in fact, you are attacking the whole government to become one in which the public will not believe in. What is at stake is whether what you said about the government being run like the NKF is true or not true. And I have a press secretary and she is my press secretary, I said go ahead.

CSJ : Yes, that's exactly -

LKY : And I am entitled to do that. Look, I'm not here to quibble about the technicalities. The technicalities are yes, I'm here in my personal capacity, but the reality is we were advised by our lawyers that we are the two who most represent the government, and that's why we are here.

CSJ : I understand that -

LKY : And we are defending the government, not just defending ourselves.

CSJ : I can see that point.

LKY : If Dr Chee sees that point, why pursue it further?

CSJ : My question to you is that if you had sued me in your personal capacity - let's not come with the 'ands', 'ifs' or 'buts' because you sign this affidavit as Mr Lee Kuan Yew NRIC number 0000003E, then why is it that you've gotten a civil servant who is paid by the taxpayers to do your private work for you?

LKY : Your honour, when the President of the United States of the Prime Minister of Great Britain travels around the country, either his daughter's marriage or whatever it is that's got to be announced, that's his personal matter but he uses his press secretary to put out the news. If that is an abuse of the government, it makes this government less of an upright government, that's for Dr Chee to make the point to the public at the next elections. Let me point out to Dr Chee, we are thinking people and we always consider the consequences of what we do. You asked yesterday whether we are out to make you further bankrupt? So what is the purpose? Let me give you the explanation. You may believe that being a bankrupt does not mean anything but then you're a political juvenile. Mr JB Jeyaretnam knows there two ways in which you can overturn the government. One, constitutionally. The other, illegally and violently. If you want to have any influence, you must get into parliament. You have disqualified yourself, you cannot participate in any elections. As long as you stay in that sterile state, muted yourself politically in the constitutional way and by every further action, the damages go up on you, the longer the number of years you will be disqualified. And Mr Jeyaretnam knew that and he found the resources to pay up and settle his bankruptcy so that he can come back because he knows unless he's qualified, he's not within the constitutional process. Unfortunately, Dr Chee, you have not seen the point.

CSJ : Mr Lee, may I ask you right now. Whilst you said that I think it's prefectly alright to be a bankrupt. I'm telling you, right now, you don't know what it means to be a bankrupt. I have three young children to take care of. I'm not complaining to you. I will take care of my own affairs. But for you to tell me right now that I should then work to pay off these debts that I owe you, it's disingenuous to say the least because that's what you want me to do. You will sue me over and over and over again and continue to make me work to make the money so that I cannot concentrate doing the political work - I haven't finished - to do the political work, to be able overcome this system which you have put in place, a system that is undemocratic, a system that abuses the rule of law, a system to ensure that you and your party perpetuate its hold on political power. I refused to play this game because that is a game that we cannot win. The only way that we can win is when there is a democratic system, when there is a rule of law and when both parties, ruling and opposition, have equal opportunity to reach out to voters and tell them what is best for Singapore and let the voters decide. Everytime I walk into the public and I decide to communicate with them, to sell my newsapaper, to talk to them, you jail me. You tell me where is the sense in all this? I will take whatever you dish out, Mr Lee, because at the end of the day, I know I have right on my side and as long as justice is with me, there is nothing that you can do to me that will make me back off.

LKY : That is his credo, your honour. We believe he has got to play by the rules -

CSJ : Rules which you have set up. Rules which you keep changing.

LKY : Bankrupts being disqualified is a rule that applies in the United Kingdom, it applies in all the countries that have derived their systems from the British so it was a rule which was in place, not one we created. If you're a bankrupt in England, you cannot participate in elections. Therefore, do not become a bankrupt.

CSJ : In other words, what you're saying, therefore do not criticise you -

LKY : No -

CSJ : That's the difference because do you see Mr Gordon Brown, or Tony Blair, or Mr George Bush suing their political opponents? Whatever is said, your honour, remains in the political realm and at the end of the day, they allow the public to make the decision. That is the difference, Mr Lee. But in the case of Singapore, you continue to ground your opponents in the most undemocratic of ways. If you could, you would have jailed them. You would have jailed them and you would not have allowed them habeas corpus, you would not allow them to come to court -

Singh : What is the question? What is the question, your honour? Really, we are tired of these political speeches which are empty -

CSJ : Yes, then I suggest you stop asking the Minister Mentor to continue making these speeches. I'll be happy to comply.

Singh : Dr Chee should get a sense of proportion, should understand that this is about question and answer and not about silly speeches which are impressing nobody, your honour. So if Dr Chee wants to ask a qusetion, please do. He'll get the answer.

CSJ : Yes, I will, your honour.

Continues in Part V

Friday, June 06, 2008

Transcript part lll : CSJ vs LKY

The following were transcribed by me from digital audio transcripts obtained from the High Court.

This is a much more complete trancript of the two truncated versions posted on SDP's website here and here.

It continues from Part ll.

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LKY: I think, Dr Chee, we'll cut short this proceeding to become more relevant. If I were -

CSJ : Mr Lee, you are again dodging the question.

Singh : No, he's trying to answer the question.

LKY : You have made serious imputations on the intergrity -

CSJ : And then you will answer me.

Singh : Let him finish.

LKY : You have said that we run this government like the NKF. I'm saying that I sued you, as did my son the Prime Minister, on the advice of counsel that we were two persons most damaged because we represented the party. He as Prime Minister and me as founder of the party. I'm not here to answer irrelevant questions. I'm here to get back this question of integrity. What have you got against me which goes to the integrity of this case? I'm here to answer questions as to the quantum of damages.

CSJ : You see, I'm trying to get to this point where making the comparison between the running of the NKF versus the running of Singapore. I've made the point repeatedly - running of the NKF is done without transparency, with the top officials in it because there was much importance placed on dollars and cents and that it was an authoritarian system that was being run. And this is where I want to ask you some of these questions that -

Singh : Your honour, on the NKF as was apparent in the cross-examination of Mr Lee Hsien Loong, I had said that I had objected to the line of questioning for the simple reason that we are past the stage of liability. Dr Chee had every opportunity during the summary judgement to produce all his evidence, your honour, about the links between the NKF and the Government and the parallels between the NKF and the Government. He had countless adjournments, opportunities were given to him to bring out that evidence so that the matter can go for a trial and Lee Kuan Yew cross-examined. What did he do, your honour? He walked out of the room. No evidence, nothing. And today, when that issue is all over, he's trying to revive it and it's impermissable, your honour, so I object to this entire line of questioning.

LKY : May I help the court -

Judge : Yes.

LKY : To come to a conclusion as to the purpose of this cross-examination by asking Dr Chee to look at this testimonial and commendation from Transparency International which was given to me and -

CSJ : Your honour, at this stage, I'm not sure about the procedure but this is highly irregular as I -

LKY : I've been asked questions that pertains to my integrity although this is about the quantum of damages. I'm pointing out to Dr Chee that regardless of what he had said, and what many others have said in the opposition about the integrity of the Government, Transparency International which you've heard about, has given me this award and they are a very, very strong voice. Read it.

CSJ : Your honour, I will take it. I've seen it before. I've read it and I will take it that there is no dispute as far as this document is concerned.

LKY : No -

CSJ : Since you brought it up, Mr Lee, let me -

LKY : If that is so -

CSJ : I think this is my cross-examination. Mr Lee has produced this document and I like to ask him about this -

Singh : Your honour, can it be marked? Can I mark P1, 2, P1, 3? P11 is the document entitled "The Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity, Transparency International Malaysia, the Global Integrity Medal is awarded to the Honourable Senior Minister, the Government of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in recognition of the successs -

CSJ : Mr Singh, I think you are running down the time, please. Like I've said already, there's no dispute. Let's take it as marked, your honour. Admit it -

Singh : I'm identifying the document. "In recognition of his success as Prime Minister in stamping out corruption in public life and transforming Singapore into an island of integrity in his private and official life, he has exemplified -

CSJ : Your honour, do me a favour, shall we not please go into this. I think Mr Singh wants the media to know of this. I'll be happy to issue them a copy.

Singh : Page 1, page 2. I was reading page 1 your honour.

Judge : Yes.

Singh : At the bottom, your honour. "He has exemplified ..."

Davindar Singh spends the next two-and-minutes reading aloud the citation.

CSJ : Mr Lee, I'll be very honest with you. I'm very surprised, I'm not kidding. I'm very surprised that you would come into court with this. You are now clutching at straws. Let me tell you the background of this -

LKY : Transparency International is not a straw organisation.

CSJ : Let me, let me finish -

Singh : Let the witness answer please.

CSJ : Transparency International. You had mentioned Peter Eigen. I was in Sao Paulo. I had lunch with Dr Peter Eigen. He is the President of Transparency International. I asked him, "Did you know about this award?" -

Singh : Where is this going? Dr Chee seems to be giving evidence -

CSJ : No, you have read out -

Singh : Sorry, Dr Chee is giving evidence from the Bar of a conversation with someone who is not in court. That is completely inpermissable.

CSJ : Peter Eigen told me that he did not authorise Tranparency International Malaysia to give this award to you.

Singh : That coming from a person -

CSJ : Transparency International, it's in my book which you have struck out. My list of documents -

Singh : Your honour, that coming from a person who has proved according to the witness to be a liar.

CSJ : Now, one more time Mr Lee, are you or are you not depending on this document to show your integrity in this courtroom? I remind you one more time that you need a lot more than this. I can tell you that this award is not worth the paper that it's written on.

LKY: We are also judged by PERC, we also judged by IMD, World Economic Forum and a whole host of other rating agencies.

CSJ: Good. Are you including International Commission Jurists? Are you including Human Rights Watch? Are you including Amnesty International? Are you including Committee to Project Journalists? Are you including International Federation for Free Exchange? Are you including Southeast Asia Press Alliance? Are you including World Movement for Democracy? Are you including Human Rights Defenders? Are you including World Forum for Democratisation in Asia? Are you including National Endowment for Democracy? Are you including Liberal International? Tell me you cited four, I cited you at least ten. Mr Lee. So do me a favour, let us not pick and choose at what endorsements you get because overall if you're trying to show me that your standing in the world is that high you wouldn't be clutching at straws and producing something from Tunku Aziz. I had a conversation with him -

Singh: Your Honour, what is the question?

CSJ: The question is why is Mr Lee depending on such a slipshop - when it is not a verifiable - if you come and tell me that you have been awarded the Nobel Prize I would accept it because that has been vetted. Tell me, who is in this organisation called Transparency International Malaysia? Tell me who are the officer here and when they make awards such as these, what vetting process do they go through?

Singh: Can we ask the cross examiner if he has a question? If he has not and he wants to make a speech and maybe for the next one hour left he can make his political speech. If he has no more questions for the witness he should say so.

CSJ: Your Honour, my question is this: Mr Lee has brought this ridiculous piece of paper and tells me that he is depending on this to prove his reputation. I'm asking him, does this plaintiff know who is behind this Transparency International Malaysia?

LKY: Your Honor, the man is on the Internet and the organisation is also on the website. They asked me in a private letter if I would receive this letter. They were wanting to score a point that it is possible to have in Southeast Asia a clean government. I agreed and I assume he would not sign a document citing TI which rates us always among the top 5 unless it had been authorised to do so. And now you are saying that he is liar, that he has falsely attributed this paragraph to Dr Eigen. Well then I say if you brought Dr Eigen here with an affidavit, then you can demolish Mr Adnan (should be Aziz) but not demolish me because I do not depend on Transparency International. I'm just putting this as an example of what PERC, IMD -

CSJ: But we haven't got the records of PERC, IMD and so in line with what Mr Singh said, let's dispense with it. Because if you did, you would produce them.

LKY: Ha. The simple answer really is between the competing NGOs, one for HR, one for liberal ideas of how governments should be and rating agencies concerned with actual assessment of government performance - where do investors put their money in. Have not put their money in?If you study the World Bank and IMF reports in countries which are unable and corrupt -

CSJ: I think you're deliberately running down the clock. Let me ask you this question -

LKY: You are asking me this question -

CSJ: Let me pose this question. You had mentioned the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy -

Judge: Dr Chee! The witness, continue, finish -

CSJ: Let me ask you this question -

Judge: Dr Chee! I would like to hear this witness. Please continue.

LKY: There are liberal organisations which disagree with the way Singapore runs its social system but we believe we know better. Otherwise we wouldn't be here, otherwise we wouldn't have this courtroom, otherwise you wouldn't be able to be living in an HDB flat. That's the final test.

CSJ: I think you're making this leap of logic that even Bruce Hawking would find it hard to follow. You are saying that without you without this entire government, we wouldn't be here? A little presumptuous, don't you think?

LKY: Your Honour, I'm saying -

CSJ: You see, Mr Lee, in Hong Kong people thrive without you and your system, in Taiwan people thrive without you and your system, in Korea people thrive without you and your system, and you are coming to this court and telling me that what we have right now is all because of you and your system that you have created. I think you are making too much of a presumption.

Singh : He should not be afraid of the answers, your honour. He should allow the answers.

CSJ : I would like some parity in being able to have this exchange.

Singh : Your honour, can the witness be allowed to answer the question because Dr Chee has already asked the question. The witness was answering the question.

CSJ : Mr Lee, my question right now is this - Mr Lee, you have cited Political Economic Risk Consultancy.

Judge : Dr Chee.

CSJ : Yes.

Judge : If you asked a question, I presume you want an answer.

CSJ : No, your honour, let me continue with my next question.

Singh : The witness has not completed the answer to the earlier question. Now, unless Dr Chee withdraws the question or says he's afraid of the answer, the witness should be allowed to complete.

Judge : Yes, please complete your answer.

LKY : There are various parts of this government which do not comply with Western practices, including the law of libel, but it is a system that have. And you have cited Taiwan, Hong Kong, in which case I ask you to remember that the President of Taiwan, after visiting Singapore earlier this year, said he admires Singapore and he wants Taiwan to become like Singapore, corruption-free. You have raised it. If you like, before these proceedings end, I will find the quote and give it to you. And you have also read, you must have read, you read voraciously, what Premier Wen Jiabao has told Mr Donald Tsang after he came to Singapore. He says, " Please go to Singapore and see what they are doing."

CSJ : Now Mr Lee..

LKY : And now may I add that the Hong Kong governor Sir Murray MacLehose, came to Singapore to study our anti-corruption laws and our anti-corruption system with the CPIB and he went back to Hong Kong and instituted similar system, and cleaned up the corruption that was seeping Hong Kong society. That is the integrity of Singapore and if we failed on that, the Government should be prosecuted and ousted.

CSJ: Is this the same integrity that you are referring to when your government in 1963 arrested all your political opponents under Operation Coldstore?

Davinder Singh rises to object.

Dr Chee (turning to Mr Singh): Let him answer, he wants to answer.

Judge : Question is disallowed.

Singh: Thank you, Your Honour.

CSJ : He wants to talk about integrity and I want to talk about integrity. Let's talk about integrity, Mr Lee. Is this the same integrity as you are referring to when you jailed Mr Chia Thye Poh for 32 years, when you imprisoned Dr Lim Hock Siew for 17 years..

Singh : I object, your honour.

CSJ : And when depriving them all –

Judge : Question is disallowed.

LKY : May I just point out that the final test is what Singapore was when I became Prime Minister in 1959 and what Singapore is now. We had less that a $100 million in the kitty. Today, between the GIC, Temasek and all the assets that we have. I'm not disclosing this but Global Financial Services assessed Singapore's sovereign wealth fund at over US$300 billion.

CSJ : And -

LKY : And had we not run such a government, we wouldn't have had these funds nor would we have the strength to defend the Singapore dollar whatever the speculators do nor would we have the infrastructure that we have including this court where we offer people like Dr Chee the luxury of all the facilities including digital transcripts that come up as the proceedings go on.

CSJ : You see, Mr Lee, my problem with this -

LKY : These are the manifestations -

CSJ : Sure -

LKY : Of the basic policy. Let me finish. You've asked me and I'm pointing out that final test is not Transparency International, PERC, IMD, IMF but the solid actions, the solid results of the lives of the people and what Singapore is, and what you're trying to do is to demolish it.

CSJ : That is complete nonsense.

LKY : And have the corruption that exist in other places.

CSJ : Your honour, let me take you back. I've told you already. What you are saying is that what you have done - the arrests of all your political opponents, the closing down of an independent and free media, all your shenanigans including making sure that I'm not allowed to get up on stage during an election rally, my party's rally, and what you've done, increasing the election deposit, by introducing the GRC - You are saying that all that is justified because now $3 billion -

LKY : $300 billion dollars.

CSJ : I'm sorry. I beg your pardon. $300 billion in our kitty, which by the way, I remind you, you will not let the people enjoy its fruits.

Judge : Dr Chee -

CSJ : You have continue to help -

Judge : Dr Chee, these questions are irrelevant. I've already indicated that they are not to be pursued in this courtroom. This is not the proper forum. There is no requirement for the witness to answer the question. Move on please.

Continues in Part lV

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Transcript part ll : CSJ vs LKY





"And if you go over the line, if you defame us, we're prepared to sue you, go into the witness box and be cross-examined. You can brief the best lawyers and demolish us. If I'm involved, I go to the witness box. And you can question me, not only on the particular defamatory issue, but all issues in my life."

- Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Time Magazine, Dec 2005


The following exchange was first posted on SDP website here. The transcript is based on the digital audio recordings obtained from the High Court. Again, as a watcher in the public gallery that day, I can attest that they are true.

I will post as much of the available transcripts here for purpose of future reference. Suffice to say it is unlikely that such an encounter will ever take place again in the Singapore courts, or for that matter, in any venue open to public scrutiny.

Meanwhile, US lawyer Gopalan Nair was arrested by the police in his Serangoon Road hotel on Saturday night and will be charged in court today.

Latest : Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin have been sentenced to 12 and 10 days imprisonment respectively for contempt of court. The sentences were meted out by Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean, who also presided over the defamation hearings. The Chees are expected to file appeals on Wednesday.

And according to this reuters report, Gopalan Nair will be detained for the next 7 days pending further investigations.

For updates of Gopalan Nair's arrest and detention, visit his lawyer's blog.

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CSJ: Mr Lee, we get to meet at last.

LKY: (pause)...Sorry?

CSJ: We get to meet at last.

LKY: I thought we've met many other times across election rallies.

CSJ: Your memory fails you. I've never met you before and you know why? Because you keep avoiding me. (Mr Lee laughs) Well, we have this opportunity right now. Let me ask you this question. You gave an interview saying: "If you defame us, and if I'm involved, I go to the the witness box and you can question me not only on the particular defamation issue, but on all issues in my life." Do you stand by your words?

LKY: I do.

CSJ: Good. In the course of the cross-examination, will you then answer questions not just on this particular defamation issue, but on all issues in your life -- and I don't mean your personal life, I mean your political life? Will you stand by that?

LKY: Your Honour, we appeared in court when the issue was whether or not the summary judgment was proper. That was the time to challenge --

CSJ: Mr Lee, that was not my question.

Judge: Allow the witness to answer. Mr Lee, please go on.

LKY: I have to answer. I'm a lawyer. I no longer practice the law. I know your purpose. You dodged that occasion and you're trying -- Dr Chee is trying today when the issue is the question of quantum of damages, it's not liability. I'm here to answer questions relating to the quantum of damages.

CSJ: Thank you. Then why is it that you say you will go to the witness box --

LKY: I have already explained that, Your Honour --

CSJ: -- and answer questions not just particular to this defamation issue but on all issues of your life. Now tell me, are those just brave words meant for public consumption and in this situation right now you're turning tail and running?

LKY: Ha ha ha, no Your Honour --

CSJ: Good. Then you won't mind me asking you why is it that you make this application to cut short your cross-examination precisely when you walk in at noon and say that you have to be stopped in the cross-examination by 2:15 giving me. the defence, only two hours and fifteen minutes, and then insisting that all of us can't go for lunch. And on top of that refusing to tell the court what this "important matter" you have this afternoon is.

LKY: That's...Your Honour...(pause)

CSJ: I'm lost for words too as I think you are right now.

LKY: ...(pause; Mr Lee was seen opening his mouth to answer but no words came out)

CSJ: Go ahead, Mr Lee.

LKY: ...(pause)

CSJ: No answer? That settles the question then.

LKY: Ha ha ha.

Judge: Dr Chee!

CSJ: Fine, let Mr Lee continue. I'm just waiting. He's probably lost for words because he doesn't quite know what to say at this stage.

Judge: If you keep interrupting the witness...Yes, Mr Lee.

LKY: ...(even longer pause)

CSJ: Please don't run down the clock. I've only got a few minutes.

At this stage, Mr Davinder Singh jumped in to bail out Mr Lee.

Singh: What is the question? Dr Chee has made so many points in his speech. He has already been told that the time to cross-examine the witness was during the summary judgment. If he had leave to defend. All issues would have been open for Dr Chee to have questioned him. The witness said that for Dr Chee to have questioned him. The witness said that Dr Chee had dodged that application and is now trying through the back door to introduce impermissible material. The witness said he is here as he said to answer questions on quantum. Dr Chee should really get on with the issue of quantum.

CSJ: Let me ask the question again. Mr Lee, you have said that you are here to answer these questions and I say that in that case why did you make an application to, halfway through the session, want the court to cut short this entire hearing. Now, I remind you that we have got until the end of tomorow, the end of tomorrow. So we have one-and-a-half days. But you insist that we have to finish by 2:15 for you to attend to some matters that you won't even reveal to the court. Now I ask you now does this sound like somebody who's willing to come to court and meet and resolve the issues?

LKY: Your Honour, I had a message from one of my counsel's aides to say that I should be in court by here 2 o'clock - by 12 o'clock because Your Honour has imposed a guillotine that the cross-examination of the prime minister would end at twelve. So I turn up at twelve. I was told that the guillotine allowed - had already been late he would be given 2 hours. I suggest - I asked my counsel to request the court to finish this two hours so that I can attend to some important matters. There's no disadvantage to anybody to be sitting here and finishing off this cross-examination within the two hours. What I do not want to be a party to is a deliberate abuse of the process, of the proceedings of the court by delaying tactics.

CSJ: So, Mr Lee --

LKY: And by asking irrelevant questions, Dr Chee is running out the gullotine. At the end of the day, we've had this confrontation face to face have you thrown any dirt, have you dug up any scandal? Are you still saying as you've said before that this government is run like the NKF?

CSJ: Now, Mr Lee, let me try to --

LKY: No, we are here because you have said that --

CSJ: Mr Lee, I'm going to ask you this question and I wish you'd just stick to the questions that I pose to you. I'm asking you why did you come to court --

LKY: Because I was asked --

CSJ: Let me rephrase my question. Are you telling the court that you had nothing to do with the curtailment of this entire process?

Singh: Your Honour, I made the application this morning and Your Honour would remembers that I said I was very troubled with what the Chees did yesterday and that it was quite apparent that they had nothing to ask which was of any relevance and that unfortunately or otherwise has been proven in this exchange. And I said, Your Honour, that the whole purpose of the cross-examination was to insult, annoy and to scandalise and that's also been proven true. For that reason, I had asked that there be a guillotine. Your Honour had full powers to control the proceedings. The order has already been made and I don't see why this witness should be asked to explain something that was the subject of my application and Your Honour's order.

CSJ: Do you see the game that's being played here, Mr Lee? Do you see how you are beginning to hide behind your counsel and then claim, "Look, I'm willing to confront them. It's my counsel." Now I'm going to ask you a very simple question: Right here, right now, tell Mr Davnder Singh "Don't interrupt. I will answer these questions as they are put to me right now."

LKY: Heh-heh. Your Honour, I've briefed counsel, I've always found it's never wise to be my own lawyer in my own case. I know that some perople believe that they can do otherwise, and I'm quite sure that Dr Chee is making a very great impression on all the reporters in this court of how he is better than Mr Ravi --

CSJ: I think you meant Mr Singh.

LKY: I believe Mr Singh is better qualified to deal with the legalities of this case.

CSJ: Well, I should hope so with all the training that he's got. Now, coming back to my question, Mr Lee, is your answer no, that you wll not tell Mr Singh: "Stay out of this. Let me answer my question because --

LKY: I --

CSJ: Let me finish my question -- because you have said -- and I repeat to you -- that you will answer not only questions about the "particular defamation issue, but on all issues in my life."

LKY: Yes...as long as that was what was an issue and that was the, it was an issue in the summary judgement was appealed against. [Note how garbled the answer is.] And we turned up for the hearing but you dodged the hearing.

CSJ: Mr Lee, you are not unintelligent.

LKY: Thank you.

CSJ: You knew precisely what you meant and what you mean is: "Come and ask me all these questions that doesn't pertain to this defamation suit and I will answer you because my entire standing, inlcuding the standing of this government, is at stake." Is that not correct?

LKY: I think, Dr Chee, we'll cut short this proceeding to become more relevant.