I was half-expecting a response along the lines of what Ms Yeong Yoon Ying has come up with. TODAYonline has received a letter from her explaining the “murderers, robbers, child molesters and rapists” allegation that she raised in her letter to the Wall Street Journal.
Firstly, the Wall Street Journal had attempted to report about the Lees v Chees defamation suit and they had made statements to the effect that Singapore is lacking in terms of political freedoms. In response to that article, Ms Yeong (MM Lee’s Press Secretary) wrote to the WSJ to set the record straight. In her letter she said:
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 defence 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."
My initial reaction to the allegation that Dr Chee said that the Singapore leaders were murderers, etc was: No Way! It can’t be! He wouldn’t have said that. If he did, he must have been insane. Maybe he was taken out of context and he might have said something else altogether different.
Then came Chee Soon Juan’s assertion that the statement by Ms Yeong was untrue. In my mind I was wondering: Hmm.. If it is untrue, how did Ms Yeong bravely make such an assertion. Is there going to be some hanky panky with the transcript. Nothing as blatant as that would happen. Surely, it wouldn’t get that ugly.
Now, Ms Yeong has clarified by producing an extract of the court transcript. The Today paper wrote on 3rd July about this exchange between Ms Yeong and Dr Chee. Today, 4th July, the paper has published an article clarifying Ms Yeong’s position. The relevant part of the transcript is as follows and according to Ms Yeong reproduced from p.115 of the court transcript of the hearing on 28 May 2008:
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”.
What’s wrong with this picture? Most readers would instantly realise that Dr Chee was being sarcastic. It is the kind of situation where a frustrated man sitting down listening to another person making allegations would remark sarcastically. Those words should not have been taken out of context and played out the way that MS Yeong has done. She says: “having lost, Dr Chee in open court then called the Singapore leaders ‘murderers, robbers, child molesters’ and ‘rapists’.” In the context of the transcript I find it difficult to come to the conclusion that Ms Yeong has come to.
I feel like I am witnessing a couple of kids engaged in a senseless quarrel and I just want to walk up to them and say: STOP IT! This is enough!
For his part Chee Soon Juan should not have responded to Ms Yeong’s letter in the manner that he did. This is what he said:
“The outrageousness of Madam Yeong's lie borders on the comedic. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, or his counsel, is in possession of court transcripts and audio-recordings that would show whether I had uttered those words. He must now produce the part of the transcript that quotes me saying those words or he risks destroying his own credibility.”
I’m sure he would have known that he used the words ‘rapists’ and ‘child molesters’ at least. Even if we assume that he did not say ‘murderers’ and ‘robbers’ and that this was stated by Dewinder Singh, then it is clear that he had at least said ‘rapists’ and ‘child molesters’. Instead of responding by challenging Ms Yeong to produce the transcripts, he should have just set out the context in which the words were used and clarified the issue. We don’t need this kind of back and forth between Ms Yeong and Dr Chee. This is like a tennis match now. But, I guess given the fact that it looks like the words were taken out of context, Ms Yeong has hit a rather week shot into Dr Chee’s side of the court. Will Dr Chee go in for the kill or will he slip before he hits the ball?