Singapore: ICJ observes trial of opposition leader charged with contempt of court
The ICJ today announced it is observing the trial of Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, for compliance with international fair trial standards.
The Honourable John Dowd AO QC, Chairperson of the International Executive Committee of the ICJ and President of the Australian Section of the ICJ, is observing the hearing on behalf of the ICJ.
Dr Chee Soon Juan was charged with contempt of court following a critical statement he made regarding the independence of the judiciary during bankruptcy proceedings in February 2006, filed against him by two former Prime Ministers of Singapore. The Attorney-General filed an action for contempt of court, reportedly as a consequence of the statement made by Dr Chee Soon Juan.
Dr Chee Soon Juan faced bankruptcy proceedings after the High Court ordered him to pay S$500,000 damages to the former Prime Ministers of Singapore who brought a defamation action against him. In the past, the ICJ has expressed concern about the use of defamation proceedings in Singapore to silence opponents, seriously undermining the rule of law.
Dr Chee Soon Juan was sued in 2002 by former Singapore Prime Ministers Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong for defamation regarding remarks made by Dr Chee Soon Juan during the Singapore general election concerning an alleged $17 billion loan to former Indonesian President Haji Mohammad Soeharto. In January last year, the High Court found Dr Chee Soon Juan liable for damages and ordered him to pay S$500,000. Dr Chee Soon Juan was declared bankrupt by the High Court on 10 February 2006 after failing to pay the damages.