September 16, 2004
Chee to MM Lee: I'll press on with defamation suit
Ex-PMs seek heavy damages from opposition leader
MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has responded to conditions laid down by Dr Chee Soon Juan concerning a defamation claim he filed in 2001 against Mr Lee, but which the Singapore Democratic Party chief has since done nothing about.
A statement by Mr Lee's press secretary Yeong Yoon Ying yesterday noted that Dr Chee has now said he will continue his claim against Mr Lee if three conditions are met.
These are that Mr Lee represents himself; that Mr Lee does not ask for security for his costs; and that the proceedings are televised live.
Addressing these, the statement said: 'Dr Chee is misleading the public, again.
'He is not required to provide security for costs to proceed with his action. He knows that it is for the courts, and not Mr Lee, to decide how proceedings are held.'
It added that Dr Chee 'did not impose any conditions before suing Mr Lee for defamation. Is he doing so now because he is afraid and needs excuses to run away?'
The statement from Mr Lee, who is in France on a private visit, was a response to Dr Chee, who said on Saturday that he would proceed with the Dec 22, 2001, defamation claim against Mr Lee for calling him a fraud, liar, cheat and political gangster.
But before he would do so, Dr Chee challenged Mr Lee to dispense with lawyers and to conduct his own case, and to have the court proceedings televised live for Singaporeans to 'hear the unvarnished truth'.
Dr Chee also said he should not have to pay a security deposit before proceeding with his claim.
The exchange between Mr Lee and Dr Chee began after a High Court hearing on Sept 6 to assess damages that Dr Chee has to pay Mr Lee and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong for defaming them in the 2001 polls.
Dr Chee was in Taiwan and did not turn up for the hearing on Sept 6. He issued a statement afterwards saying the case proceeded in his absence because the two leaders wanted to avoid being cross-examined by him. He also said that he himself was not afraid of being cross-examined in court.
This prompted Mr Lee to respond.
And in a statement on Sept 9, he said that if Dr Chee were indeed not afraid of being cross-examined or of cross-examining Mr Lee in court, he would have the opportunity to do so if he proceeded with the 2001 defamation claim.
But as Dr Chee had done nothing since then to proceed with his claim, there was only one explanation: that he was afraid of being cross-examined and of cross-examining Mr Lee, said the Sept 9 statement from Mr Lee.
Dr Chee said he planned to press on with his suit but claimed that the delay in proceeding with the claim against Mr Lee was due to the expenses of getting a lawyer.