PM Lee, MM Lee demand apology from SDP for NKF remarks

  Channel News Asia
April 22, 2006

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are demanding an apology from the Singapore Democratic Party's Central Executive Committee for remarks made in the latest issue of its party newspaper, the New Democrat.

These were contained in an article - both in English and in Chinese - on the National Kidney Foundation issue.

The letters of demand were also served on Friday, Apr 21, to the printing company which printed the newspaper.

The article in question is headlined: Govt's role in the NKF scandal.

A captioned photograph in the same newspaper, which showed a group of protestors outside the CPF Building, was also singled out as having caused offence.

The photo showed the protesters holding a placard and wearing T-shirts with the words "HDB, GIC, NKF and CPF".

Acting for the Prime Minister, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh says that in their ordinary meaning and innuendo, both the words and the photograph had alleged that Mr Lee Hsien Loong is dishonest and unfit for office.

The SDP had also alleged that as Prime Minister, Mr Lee has perpetuated a corrupt political system for the benefit of the political elite.

These allegations were based on the premise that the government had access to the information which has now been unearthed about the NKF, but concealed it to avoid criticism.

They also implied that the Prime Minister condones or permits corruption in institutions such as the Housing and Development Board, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and the Central Provident Fund.

As for the photograph, Mr Davinder says the Chinese words that accompanied it were published maliciously, and calculated to gain political mileage by disparaging Mr Lee Hsien Loong and impugning his character and integrity.

Similarly, in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's letter of demand, it was stated that the words and photograph also implied that, like the Prime Minister, the Minister Mentor is also dishonest and unfit for office.

And if the defamatory allegations were true, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was guilty of corruption, nepotism, criminal conduct, dishonesty, had advanced the interests of his family at the expense of the needs of Singapore, had misled Parliament and had covered his tracks to avoid criticism.

Another allegation was that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had managed the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in a corrupt manner.

In the Minister Mentor's demand letter to Dr Chee Soon Juan, the SDP Chief was also reminded that he had defamed Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 28 October 2001, and had published an apology a few days later.

Then, he undertook not to make any further similar allegations or statements.

However, Mr Davinder noted that Dr Chee has deliberately and maliciously breached this undertaking.

The SDP, its 12 members and its printer, Sum Kwai Lum trading as Melodies Press Company, have till 10am next Tuesday (April 25) to respond to the demands for an apology.

This apology, according to the text set out in the letters of demand, is to be published in two local dailies on April 27, failing which both leaders will sue all parties involved. - CNA/ch