Cowards, Shakespeare wrote, die many times before their deaths. And so it is that the Lees have yet again shown their true selves by applying for summary judgment in the present lawsuit – just as I had predicted.
I had forewarned when the Lees first launched the suit: "The only worry is that the plaintiffs will try to prevent the matter from going to trial and avoid being cross-examined.”
I wrote this because I had known that from the beginning the Lees, despite their show of bravado, would ensure that they did not present themselves in court for cross-examination. Their application for summary judgment has proved this observation correct. It speaks volumes of their real character. It is obvious that they cannot substantiate their accusations and prove their case. Another reason, and perhaps a more important one, is that the Lees are terrified of being cross-examined in open court where the public can hear and see for themselves the real facts.
Especially disconcerting is Mr Lee Hsien Loong. As the new leader of Singapore, he ought to be able to subject his statements and claims to scrutiny especially when he takes out a lawsuit and makes allegations against his opponents.
But instead of facing Ms Chee and I like a true leader, he now backtracks and doesn’t want to go to trial and allow us to cross-examine the truthfulness of his remarks. If this is going to be the trademark of Singapore’s younger leadership, this country is in a lot more trouble than we think.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew for many years used detention without trial to silence his critics. Mr Lee Hsien Loong now wants to use defamation without trial for the same ends. This practice, while protecting his regime, will ultimately ruin the future of Singapore.
But why does the Prime Minister want to go for a summary judgment when he has the perfect opportunity to prove his case and avoid the odium of being labeled as a leader who lacks courage to take the witness box? (Even the Straits Times is trying to lessen the impact: Note the headline "PM Lee's, MM's lawyers apply for summary judgment” when it was clear that it was the Lees – and not their lawyers – who applied for summary judgment.)
The answer is simple: It’s the lesser of two evils. Going to court and testifying under oath is worse, much worse, than having to die many times before their deaths.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(2 July 2006)