Posted by Seelan Palay on behalf of Chee Siok Chin
Source: Jaslyn Go’s Blog

Among us F4, I was the least interested in politics..not forgetting, the one with the worse political knowledge.

Kelvin’s political knowledge was the best, which even Ti Lik as a politician takes his hats off to.

E-Jay’s political knowledge came pretty close to Ti Lik’s, and he being a very keen and fast learner, he absorb very fast.

I am the most hopeless among the 4 of us..my mind always drift off when they start to discuss politics or the recent policies, too ‘cheem’ for me as what I always tell them..

Ti Lik and E-Jay were the one who always drag me to attend SGHR and SDP meeting back then..Even though I told them I am not keen, but they always managed to persuade me to join them eventually..

I remember once in a meeting at SDP office..I was day dreaming when suddenly Dr Chee ask..”how about Jaslyn”.. I got stump and didn’t know what Dr Chee was talking about as I have not been paying attention..Ti Lik and E-Jay were laughing and save me the embarrassment further by replying ..”Jas cannot…she is not ready yet”..

I remember during Dr Chee and Siok Chin’s contempt of court trial, I hurriedly walk out from high court as I know hordes of reporters were waiting outside for them and I am not ready to be seen together with them (like many Singaporeans, to be seen with these 2 are a taboo).  I stood a distance away from them as I watched in total disbelief how our reporters were behaving like paparazzi, going after Siok Chin with the video and cameras blocking her path.  That was when I walk up to Siok Chin and put my hand on her shoulder and told her, “how can I let you walk alone, come, let me walk with you”.  The video crew follow us, blocking our path while we were trying to cross the road from High Court to Funan, and we were smiling and laughing about their silly antics.

That footage appeared in the evening  in CNA news and immediately my phone was swarmed with smses from friends and family asking me what am I doing with Siok Chin.  The next day, my neighbors were telling me they saw me on TV with SDP people and asking me how come I am mixing with SDP people.

Looking back 2 years on, while my 2 ‘bodyguards’ – Ti Lik and E-Jay has pleaded guilty to the protest 3 of us were involved with, I chose to continue on the trial.  Not because I am stubborn, or that I have the the whole world of time to play with them, in contrary, I do at times feel the strain of the trial taking time away from my responsibility aa a mother, and the thought of pleading guilty and just get over and done with is rather tempting.

What keeps me going is none other than my sister in arms – Siok Chin.  She is always my source of strength whenever I am feeling the strain.  As someone who had been through a number of trials and a jail sentence, she is always reassuring and find ways to cheer me up.  On some days when the court adjourn early, she never fail to suggest that we bring my kids out for play which makes my kids so happy.

Now, this sister of mine is yet again jail and this time for 7 days for ‘distributing pamphlets criticizing the PAP Government without a permit’.

If criticizing our government is illegal, then aren’t all opposition parties illegal parties since the basis of opposition is criticizing on government policies they feel strongly about?

In my views, only a incompetent government are afraid to be criticize and will hide behind the judiciary for protection against anyone criticizing.  A competent government will stand up to criticism and refute with facts and not let others do the dirty work of ’silencing critics in the form of arrest, prosecute and jailed.

As I sit here writing this article and feeling sad because I can’t be there for my sister who never failed to be there for me, I feel even sadder for Singaporeans who failed to see the autocratic government they have given mandate to for the past 40 years.  Until Singaporeans wake up and start to see how our government has really been ruling us, Singapore will be in a sad state.

I urge my fellow Singaporeans, even a least interested in politics mother like me, who has been brain washed for the past 30+ years to be apathetic to politics has since been awaken from the slumber, please wake up and see for yourself what has our government being doing to us, our people.  Even when now they are going on damage control, citizens will now come first before PRs, blah blah blah, will it last after they be given the mandate yet again for another term?

I DOUBT SO.

Wake up my fellow Singaporeans, you have a choice, vote the PAP out when the time come for you to cast your votes.

In solidarity with all who had been unjustly and unfairly jailed, prosecuted and persecuted.

By Chia Ti Lik

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PINCER MOVEMENT

EXECUTED ON CHEE SIOK CHIN

A write up on the events relating to the Originating Summons (“OS”) for review of the Official Assignee’s decision to disallow Ms Chee Siok Chin (“CSC”) from leaving Singapore for Stanford University.

The application was filed by CSC in person on 4th August 2008. She had requested for and obtained an urgent hearing date on 11th August 2008 for her.

I was instructed argue on her behalf on an urgent basis and I appeared before the Honourable Justice Tan Lee Meng on a short notice on 11th August 2008. At that hearing, the AG-C alleged that there had been improper service of the documents on their office and they registered objection to the lack of clarity of CSC’s OS.

Notwithstanding the alleged improper service, the AG-C came ready with a submission, and 4 affidavits to address the position taken by the Applicant.

In the affidavits, the Attorney-General’s officers claimed as follows, namely that:-

a.                   they were improperly served. AG-C received only the 1st page of CSC’s  affidavit without any cover letter; and

b.                  The AG-C encountered difficulty of serving the said affidavits on CSC.

In the affidavits, the Official Assignee’s officers claimed as follows, namely that:-

a.                   CSC had been uncooperative towards their office in the management of her financial affairs; and

b.                  The Official Assignee’s office email delivery system had prevented them from receiving the emails.

Faced with the objections and having had sight of the 4 affidavits for the first time only at the hearing, I asked for time to rectify the OS as well as to respond to the affidavits filed by the AG-C.

The Honourable Justice Tan Lee Meng made the following directions:-

a.                   1 week to CSC to make amendments and file all necessary further documents;

b.                  1 further week for AG-C to respond; and

c.                   the hearing to take place on week thereafter on 1st September 2008.

The hearing on 11th August 2008, even if heard and ruled in favour of CSC was already impossible for CSC to make it meaningfully to the fellowship of democrats at Stanford University which would have ended on 16th August 2008. CSC was supposed to have been at the fellowship on 29th July 2008 till 16th August 2008.

The adjournment, however, was not the cause of a delayed review application because CSC had requested the Official Assignee for permission from to travel from as early as 28th April 2008. In addition to that, she had sent reminders sent to the Official Assignee on 3 occasions: 2nd May 2008, 8th May 2008 and 13th May 2008.

To these email communications, the Official Assignee’s office claimed on affidavit that the government internet filter prevented them from receiving the emails from CSC because of the attachments she annexed to the email.

Subsequent to the adjournment, I got down working with CSC on her Reply Affidavit as well as the amendments to the OS and other documents.

An unsuccessful attempt was made to file the Amended OS on 18th August but the Electronic Filing system refused to accept the documents.

When CSC affirmed her reply affidavit on Thursday 21st August 2008, a 2nd attempt was made to file the Amended OS and the Reply affidavit.

I attempted to inform the AG-C on 21st August 2008 of the delay. The facsimile failed to transmit and was re-faxed in the morning of 22nd August 2008.

On 22nd August 2008 the AG-C wrote complaining of:-

Not having any specified the problems we encountered;

Not having been served the amended OS and reply affidavit;

Objecting to any adjournment; and

Objecting to any late filing of CSC’s papers.

I replied on 22nd August 2008 clarifying a number of points, namely that:-

The adjournment granted on 11th August 2008 was inconsequential given the delay given by the Official Assignee’s office in replying in the first place;

The problem encountered in filing the amended OS;

The suggestion of adjournment was offered to avoid prejudicing any party;

The late filing would never in any circumstance be allowed to prejudice the AG-C;

And I effected service of the documents on the AG-C via fax without the confirmation that Supreme Court Registry has accepted the same; and

Informing that by 25th August 2008 we would seek to refix the other matters in the subordinate Courts should AG-C still object to the said suggested adjournment.

On 25th August 2008, the AG-C replied:-

Taking issue with the fact that CSC’s reply affidavit was sworn on 21st August as opposed to be filed on 18th August 2008;

Taking issue that the documents do not seem to have been accepted by the court for filing in EFS as at 1045hrs 25th August 2008;

Reserving the right to make a proper response only if the documents are properly filed and served; and

Objecting to any adjournment of the hearing on 1st September 2008.

On 1122hrs Monday 25th August 2008, the Supreme Court Registry rejected the Amended OS and CSC’s reply affidavit for Electronic filing. The rejection was received on 1205hrs on Monday 25th August 2008. The reason for rejection given – late filing.

On 28th August 2008, there as a further letter from AG-C:

Reiterating previous points;

Citing that as at 10am 28th August 2008, I had still not re-filed and re-served the documents nor written to explain the same; and

Insisting that the only documents which CSC will rely on would only be the documents filed previously.

I responded to AG-C via a letter dated 28th august 2008

Informing (incorrectly) that the documents were rejected on Friday 22nd August 2008 (when it was actually Monday 25th August 2008);

Explaining no separate formal application for leave for reasons of costs and feasibility;

Given the reason of rejection furnished by the Registry in the circumstances, no further attempt at filing was made; and

There is no reason for AG-C to deny the Applicant any adjournment or leave to re-file and insist on CSC relying only on those documents filed previously.

The AG-C’s letter dated 28th August 2008 (received on 29th August 2008):-

Asserting that it was by our course of conduct that the court does not have CSC’s further documents;

Reiterating that the hearing on 1st September would proceed on the basis of the documents filed in court; and

Copying our letter and the current letter to the Registrar Supreme Court.

I replied to the AG-C on 29th August 2008:-

Objecting to the persistent assertions that it was our conduct that led to the Court not having CSC’s proposed documents to justify a stand denying her the right to place her further documents before Justice Tan Lee Meng;

Citing their right to a rejoinder response in any event;

The greater importance is for the issue of the actions of the Official Assignee’s office to be reviewed by the Court;

AG-C has to act impartially when exercising a public function; and

Requesting AG-C to place all correspondences before Registrar Supreme Court and Justice Tan.

The response from AG-C via letter dated 29th August 2008:-

Reiterates previous points;

Explaining why chambers make no proper response as the documents have not been properly filed;

Stubbornly insists on proceeding with application on 1st September 2008 on the basis of documents filed and accepted by the Court Registry; and

Refusing to copy complete correspondence to the Attorney General’s office.

CSC is a bankrupt and given the difficulties encountered to file the relevant papers, there was a limit to what she or her counsel could do.

The rejection by the Supreme Court Registry of the documents for Electronic Filing was received only in the afternoon of 25th August 2008.

By that time, it would have been too late for CSC to prepare and file a separate application for leave of court for an extension of time to file the same as such an application would in all probability yielded a hearing date before after 1st September 2008. Furthermore, there were cost considerations in terms of additional disbursements when the Applicant is clearly a bankrupt.

CSC was ready and willing to proceed with the application for review but the crux of her case and the proper process requires her papers to be filed to be accepted by the Supreme Court Registry and in the circumstances, leave of the Court was required.

The AG-C was aware of the difficulties encountered by CSC but was intent on keeping her at a disadvantage even though as at 22nd August 2008, the AG-C had been served with a copy each of the papers.

CSC’s position is therefore known to the AG-C since that date but those positions are not open to CSC for her to canvass the same in Honourable Court so long as her affidavits was not accepted by the Supreme Court Registry.

It must be noted that in any event, the Honourable Court had given AG-C leave to file and serve their rejoinder response which will allow the AG-C to have the last word on this application. The AG-C would have been in no way prejudiced by any adjournment.

Notwithstanding the above, AG-C successfully objected to the CSC being given leave to file her papers and CSC had to proceed with the hearing based on what she had successfully filed in Court when what CSC had on court record was insufficient to address allegations made by the Official Assignee’s Office in their affidavits.

The Court dismissed the application on the ground that there was no reason for the court to rule on a matter which has already passed in that it was no longer meaningful for the review to be made as the period of travel was over and that such a review over matters of discretion decided by the OA would not give rise to a precedent for future actions.

In this process, I learnt of the whimsicality of the Official Assignee.

I learnt of the tenacity of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

I experienced the illogicality of the actions of the Supreme Court Registry.

I witness the opportunistic nature of government-controlled media.

And I understood the effectiveness of the pincer movement executed on Chee Siok Chin.

By Ng E-Jay

Earlier in June, Ms Chee Siok Chin received notice from Stanford University that she had been selected to attend the Stanford Summer Fellows on Democracy and Development Programme which takes place from 28 Jul to 15 Aug. She was one of only 27 candidates selected from over 500 applicants.

However, the Official Assignee’s (OA’s) office saw fit to reject her application for travel, stating “none of these travels have translated into a benefit to your creditors“. Ms Chee was adjudicated a bankrupt in Aug 07 after she was ordered to pay costs over a court case challenging the Government on the Constitutional rights of the four persons who had protested in front of the CPF building in 2005. In the past year, the OA’s office had granted her permission to leave Singapore on several occasions when she had to attend international conferences and meetings.

Ms Chee appealed to Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, stating that the fellowship was crucial for her as part of her research for a book which she is planning to write. “Part of the earnings from the sales of the book will then be made to the benefit of my creditors,” she informed Mr Shanmugam.

The Ministry responded thus: “We regret to inform you that the decision to reject your travel application remains. The OA is not persuaded that your attendance at the fellowship program in Stanford University would result is any substantial additional benefit to your creditors.

The Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) then wrote to the Minister for Law appealing for Ms Chee to be allowed to attend its Summer Fellows Program. The letter, dated 22 July, stated: “Ms Chee has been invited to give a public lecture here at Stanford University, during her stay as a Summer Fellow, with an honorarium of US$2,000 … … Since all of her expenses as a summer fellow will be covered separately, we would assume that her honorarium earnings could be used to help meet her obligations to her creditors upon her return, benefiting all concerned.

So now, the OA has been informed of 2 ways in which Ms Chee’s attendance at the programme could benefit her creditors — she has been awarded an honorarium of US$2,000 which could be made fully available to her creditors as all her travel expenses are separately covered, and part of the proceeds from the sales of her book which she is going to write could also be made available to her creditors.

However, the OA replied and still would not allow Ms Chee to travel. This was followed by a Straits Times article entitled “‘No’ to Stanford trip for Chee’s sister” published on 02 Aug recapitulating the events much as I’ve described thus far.

What does the OA’s office do, now that the sequence of events has been exposed in the national press? They take the fight to the next level.

Malcolm B.H. Tan, the Assistant Official Assignee, wrote a letter to the ST forum dated 05 Aug slamming the ST article for containing many factual errors. He claimed that during Ms Chee’s meeting at the OA’s office on July 3 as part of her application for travel, she refused to give her passport for verification, refused to disclose how she would be paying for her trip, and refused to verify information concerning her income and expenditure.

The letter by the OA’s office also unceremoniously disclosed the total amount Ms Chee owed her creditors, a move tantamount to infringement of privacy.

And to top the icing on the cake, the Assistant OA claimed that Ms Chee “did not mention her US$2,000 honorarium during the interview on July 3. It surfaced only after her application was rejected. By then, she had clearly demonstrated her unwillingness to cooperate.

How much truth is there in the Assistant OA’s statements? I will leave it to readers to judge, based on Ms Chee’s reply which is attached below:

Mr Malcolm Tan’s distorted version of my meeting with the OA’s office is misleading.

He says that I had refused to give my passport for verification. This is a lie. One of the officers had asked to go through my passport. As the majority of my travels had taken place before my bankruptcy, she had no right to peruse it.

I therefore flagged the pages of my passport which contained my travels that took place after my bankruptcy and went through these with the officers. None of them objected.

One officer said that she merely wanted to confirm if I had gone on the trips where the travel permits were approved. I confirmed that I had gone on each of those trips.

It is clear that Mr Tan is not telling the truth.

Mr Tan also accuses me of not telling them who was paying for my trip. Again, this is an outright lie.

I had submitted to the OA’s office on no less than four occasions the letter from Stanford University telling me that the university was paying for my trip. In part, the letter read:

“As mentioned, CDDRL (Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law) will cover the cost of your air and ground transportation. We will also buy a health insurance on your behalf …You should not really need much money since all of your meals, transportation, and housing are covered by the program.”

Contrary to what Mr Tan said in his letter, I never refused to answer who was paying for my trip to Stanford. Mr Tan is quite shameless in covering up the fact that the OA had full knowledge of this matter.

Mr Tan also says that I had refused to verify information of my income and expenditure statement. At the meeting, one of the officers told me that my creditors had wanted to know who was helping me financially. She said that if they wanted to remain anonymous, all I had to do was to put that in writing. That was done in my email to the officers on 9 July 2008.

How have I refused to verify the information requested?

The officers at the OA must come clean about why it refused my travel application to Stanford University. The initial reason they gave was that my previous trips had not benefited my creditors.

But after I sent them the letter from Stanford saying that the university would pay me an honorarium so that I could use that to pay the creditors, the OA changes tack and now says that the reason I was refused the travel permit was that I had been uncooperative.

Such flip-flopping is offensive.

To add insult to injury Mr Tan reveals the figures owed to my creditors. I remind Singaporeans that I was made bankrupt by the AG’s Chambers over a court challenge on a Constitutional matter, not because of my own private dealings.

Still, it is wholly unethical for the OA’s office to make public what they have been privately entrusted to manage. What has the information anything to do with this case? Even then, Mr Tan cannot get the figures right which adds to his unprofessionalism.

Lest the OA’s office forgets, the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office is a body that is supposed to serve citizens. It is not a vehicle to further the agenda of the ruling party.

Chee Siok Chin
Singapore Democratic Party

By Huang Chih Mei

As a child, my husband and his family used to live in a magnificent villa right next to the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, formerly known as Wan Qing Yuan. The already demolished villa with a big compound was built by their grand father who was a medical doctor trained in the University of Edinburg. However, they had to move to a 3-room flat in Toa Payoh with their mother after their father left them due to his own folly resulted in subsequent financial difficulties. Siok Chin was then only 2 years old.

I heard stories from my mother-in-law that Siok Chin addressed her own father as “uncle” when she first met him at their grand father’s funeral which got him really mad. But she never knew how her father looked like until that very encounter.

When she attended the nearby PAP kindergarten, my husband Soon Juan, being 4 years older than Siok Chin, was frequently the one assigned by their mother to walk her to school. These two younger siblings of the family do share common interests in many things such as reading, sports, religion, political conviction, and now their fate in the ultimate baptism of fire – imprisonment.

When I visited Soon Juan in jail during his previous prison terms, Siok Chin always told me to bring our kids to see her in jail when it’s her turn. She was prepared, as it seems to be unavoidable eventually for those who have determined to stay on the cause of fighting for freedom and injustice in Singapore.

For Siok Chin, one of her main worries in going to jail was how to inform her elderly mother and whether she would be able to cope with the reality that 2 of her children are jailed at the same time. Unlike Siok Chin, her brother tends to get away from the usual motherly berating. When inquired by my mother-in-law about what happened in court with Lee Kuan Yew, he told her, “Mr Lee asked me, how…your mother?”

A caring daughter, Siok Chin repeatedly reminded me that her mother’s birthday falls during the period of her jail term and whether I could arrange something on her behalf.

For a long time before she stepped into the opposition political scene, I knew Siok Chin was seriously hoping to be able to adopt a little girl, in addition to her monthly sponsorship to a school-age boy in Africa. She is a great aunt to my 3 kids, but she loves children and I think it’s natural for her to want to have a child of her own. She checked on the information on oversea orphanages, and the laws and regulations regarding adoption in Singapore. In the process, she was often frustrated by the procedure and the prospect of an unmarried woman becoming a single adoptive mother.

Not long ago, when I curiously asked her about that adoption dream, she smiled wirily and told me that she has no dreams for herself nowadays.

I cringed whenever the local newspapers published the most distasteful and unflattering photos of Siok Chin, portraying her as angry and aggressive. Their portrayal is the exact opposite of the Siok Chin I know – a real woman with a strong sense of justice and a beautiful heart.

Dr Huang Chih Mei is Dr Chee Soon Juan’s wife and Ms Chee Siok Chin’s sister-in-law. Ms Chee is presently serving her 10-day jail sentence for contempt of Singapore’s judiciary in Changi Women’s Prison.

By Charles Tan

The more oppressive this government becomes, the more determined I am to break the shackles of repression. The tyranny that exists here has also called up strength and will in me that I never thought I had – Siok Chin, ‘The best place to be during those 72 hours’

At the European Parliamentary Democracy Caucus hearing in Brussels, Belgium in March this year, Chee Siok Chin, a member of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) voiced out concerns about regional leaders such as Mr Nong Duc Manh of Vietnam, former Thai prime minister Thaksin, and Hun Sen of Cambodia of emulating Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his party’s authoritarian rule (CALD 2008).

While she has received less attention as compared to her brother, Dr Chee Soon Juan, her commitment to defending human rights in Singapore is equally outstanding.

Her foray into politics can be dated to 2001 when she became the only female Opposition to run in that year’s General Elections. There had been a hiatus of 10 years prior to that occurence – in 1991, SDP fielded another women candidate, Toh Kim Kiat against the ruling party. In that election, she had focused on educational issues for her campaign given her experience in the teaching service for more than 12 years. After working in the sector, she was obliged to voice out her dissatisfactions against its overtly elitist approach (Think Centre 2002).

Over the years, she had grown to become a more ardent critic of PAP and a outspoken activist who has engaged in non-violent actions and to highlight the regime’s repressive and autocratic rule.

In 2005, together with 3 other activists, they made history by conducting a silent lunch time protest outside the Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF – a national pension fund scheme) building demanding accountability and transparency from the Singapore government, especially in the way it manages the national reserves.

As she relates the incident, after the police had arrived and confiscated their t-shirts, the whole protest was, in her opinion, ‘… Priceless because they will always remind us of the day the four of us found our courage and stood up to demand accountability and transparency from the Singapore government’ (Chee 2005).

A year later, she was also involved in the Singapore- IMF protests which culminated in a 72 hours standoff with the local police. The demands echoed her earlier calls – not just government accountability, but also to take care of the poor and respect citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly (Chee 2006).

In the 2006 elections, she raised the stakes by taking the PAP government to court for conducting an undemocratic election. As she puts it, the ruling party has been using ‘threats and vote-buying tactics that are clearly unconstitutional. All these have been going on since 1997 and it is about time someone checks on how this government uses taxpayers’ money for its own electioneering purpose…’ (Wong 2006).

Her political activism and appeal to the Singapore government to be more open, accountable and respecting citizen’s rights to civil and political liberties has raised the ire of the authorities.

Together with her brother, Dr Chee (who is sentenced to 12 days), she has been convicted ‘for contempt of court’ and imprisoned for 10 days in their cross- examination of the Lees (the Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister, son, Lee Hsien Loong) for the court case in which the latter has sued for defamation (SDP 2008).

Her devotion to promoting human rights and democracy can be summed up in an IS magazine interview, “I want to create awareness among Singaporeans that they have rights that they should claim and exercise. Don’t let other people brainwash and control you. Own your own mind because if people don’t have a sense of ownership over their own country, then people will move away and we will lose valuable talent…” (IS Magazine n.d.).

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Works Cited

CALD 2008, Chee Siok Chin in Brussels:Democrats need to pay attention to Singapore, created 5 March, accessed 5 June 2008
.

Think Centre 2002, Only Woman Opposition Candidate in GE 2001, created 12 January, accessed 5 June 2008.

Chee, S. C. 2005, ‘A Protest in Sunny Singapore’, Singabloodypore blog, 12 August, accessed 5 June 2008.

Chee, S. C. 2008, ‘Confessions of a Singapore Protestor III – The best place to be during those 72 hours’, Singapore Democrats, 5 October, accessed 5 June 2008.

Wong, F 2006, ‘Chee Siok Chin takes legal action against PAP’s electioneering, Reuters News, 24 May, accessed 6 June 2008.

‘PRISONER 5925 in good spirits at Changi Women’s Prison’, Singapore Democrats, 6 June 2008, accessed 6 June 2008.

‘How it feels to be a social activist’, IS magazine, accessed 6 June 2008.