Tang says he won't pay $3.63 m damages
to PAP leaders
Straits Times. Nov 29,1997
BY Shahiron Sahari in Sydney
EXILED lawyer Tang Liang Hong said yesterday that he would not pay the $3.63 million in damages to 11 People's Action Party leaders for defamation.
Speaking to the Straits Times in Sydney, he said he was exploring other avenues open to him.
"I'm not going to pay them. I have another alternative open to me," he said, but declined to elaborate.
He was ordered in May to pay damages of $7.175 million to the PAP leaders, including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, but the Appeal Court reduced the amount earlier this month to $3.63 million.
Mr Tang said then that he wanted to start a "fresh action" to strike out the court's judgment and would go to London to see his Queen's Counsel, Mr Charles Gray, to work out his next course of action.
The defeated Workers' Party candidate, currently based in Melbourne, said yesterday that he would be staying there "for a while".
"I believe I still have to. It depends on the situation. I think it is still not time yet (for me) to walk into Singapore airport but it doesn't mean that I will not go back to Singapore."
He said he was living "quite a relaxed life" after leaving Singapore in January, but was quite busy preparing his case and helping his wife to "resist the seizure of her property".
He is in Sydney to speak at a two-day forum titled "Political Dissent in Singapore". Organised by the Singapore and Malaysia Human Rights Association here, it is being held at the University of Technology.
Mr Tang's presentation today is on "The Politics of Asian Values and Democracy".
The speakers yesterday were Workers' Party chief J. B. Jeyaretnam, Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan and Father James Minchin, who wrote No Man Is An Island, a book on Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Jeyaretnam, who spoke on "The Opposition and the State", said he could not see "much hope of Singapore taking its place among the developed nations of the world" as long as "the system allows very little room for the participation of its citizens in the running of its affairs".
Dr Chee's presentation was on "Civil Society and Democracy in Singapore", while Father Minchin spoke on "1987 ISA Arrests -- Causes and Effects", outlining the Marxist conspiracy that year.
Dr Chee said the Asian economic crisis highlighted the need for transparency in governments, not just in Singapore but throughout Asia.
He said: "Even if it is just for economic purposes, there must be accountability, there must be transparency in the government. Right now there isn't any in Singapore. The $100 billion reserves in Singapore -- how much do we know about it?"
Earlier, he said at a press conference that although the SDP might have kept a low profile since the January General Election, it was not inactive, and was working with the WP.
"There will be a time when, in a concerted effort with Mr Tang and Mr Jeyaretnam, we will make a very determined effort to change things in the political system of Singapore and open up society."
About 40 people, mostly students, attended the forum yesterday. Besides Mr Tang, today's other speaker is Father Minchin. There will also be a film, Fatal Reaction, on the Social Development Unit, and a discussion session.