Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Freedom Of Speech

Writing to the Wall Street Journal, Lee Kuan Yew's press secretary relives Bhavani's attack on MrBrown, complete with gross inaccuracy and blatant distortion. Where in the court transcript was anyone labelled "murderers, robbers, child molesters" and "rapists"?

Your editorial ("Democracy in Singapore," June 26), relying on a "partial transcript," has misunderstood the issue in the libel case involving Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his sister.

The case had nothing to do with political freedom. It was for defamation arising from the Chees' false claims that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew are criminals and corrupt. Despite being advised by a Queen's Counsel, they failed to produce any credible defense or evidence to back up their claims.

Having lost, Dr. Chee in open court then called the Singapore leaders "murderers, robbers, child molesters" and "rapists." The Chees also rebuked the judge, ignored her orders and shouted her down. In Ms. Chee's defense, her lawyer could only claim that she was "almost paranoid." This is why the judge sentenced the Chees to imprisonment for scandalizing the court.

Many opposition politicians routinely criticize government leaders, but are not sued because they have not uttered slanderous falsehoods. Contrary to your editorial, Singapore upholds free speech and the right to disagree, subject to the law.

Singapore's laws must be decided by Singaporeans, not by foreigners like Gopalan Nair, who is a U.S. citizen, or by the foreign media. Foreign media are entitled to report and comment on what is happening in Singapore, but they circulate here subject to Singapore law. They have no right to defame, to give a skewed account of court proceedings, or to engage in Singapore politics, for example, by campaigning for their version of Western style "democracy" for Singapore.

Yeong Yoon Ying
Press Secretary to Minister Mentor

When challenged to prove the veracity of her statement: "Dr Chee had called Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew ‘murderers, robbers, child molesters’ and ‘rapists’ in open court", the press secretary responded thus:

I enclose p. 115 of the verbatim court reporting transcript of the hearing on28 May 2008. Line 11 onwards reads:

Mr Davinder Singh: “ ... And to conclude on Dr Chee’s submissions, he says that he doesn’t wish Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong ill. In that same breath, he says he stands by The New Democrat article, which alleged that they are ‘criminals, corrupt, and covered up matters in the NKF’. And under his breath he’s now just said ‘murderers and robbers’.”

Dr Chee: “And rapists, too, you might as throw it in, you know, right? Child molesters”.

Mr Singh: “And this is the man who says “I don’t wish them ill”.

Dr Chee has once again lied to Singaporeans.

She must think Singaporeans share her same IQ level.