Singapore prime minister expected to testify in High Court case
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected
to testify in Singapore's High Court Monday in a hearing to access damages
against a bankrupt political opponent and his party.
Lee and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are pressing for aggravated damages against Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister and executive member Chee Siok Chin, and the SDP.
Also expected to be cross-examined during the three-day hearing is the senior Lee, Singapore's founding father and first prime Minister.
The two leaders are likely to be cross-examined by Lawyer M Ravi, representing the SDP, as well as Chee and his sister, who are representing themselves, political analysts said.
It will mark the first time any leader of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has been cross-examined by a political opponent in open court, they noted.
The PAP holds all but two of the seats in the 84-member parliament.
Both Lees, father and son, won a defamation suit against the SDP for defamatory remarks in the party's publication, "The New Democrat" after obtaining a summary judgement from the court in 2006.
If the SDP is unable to pay up, the 28-year-old party faces the prospect of dissolution.
The hearing had been scheduled to start two weeks ago. It was delayed by Justice Belinda Ang after Chee requested more time to reply to an application by the Lees to strike out the affidavits filed by the Chee sibling.
During a closed-door hearing Friday, Ravi and the Chees argued that their affidavits were neither "relevant nor scandalous as had earlier been described by the Lees' lawyer, Davinder Singh.
Singh later said the affidavits had nothing to do with the defamatory articles, but were political in nature.
Ang agreed to allow Chee Soon Juan, Singapore's most vocal opposition politician, to reply Monday morning.
If the affidavits are struck out, the Chees will not be able to take the stand and present evidence in their affidavits against the Lees.
The articles, which appeared before the 2006 general election, drew parallels between a scandal in the National Kidney Foundation and the government.
The Lees sued over remarks which alleged they were corrupt and covered up wrongdoings at the NKF.
Chee Soon Juan was declared bankrupt following a defamation award of 500,000 Singapore dollars (373,000 US dollars) in February 2006 to former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.
Activists and critics such as human rights group Amnesty International say Singapore's leaders use defamation lawsuits to cripple opposition politicians.
The government maintains such legal action is necessary to safeguard the leaders' reputation, dpa reported.