IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
Suit No. 2523 of 1996
LEE KUAN YEW
(NRIC No. S0000003/E)
TANG LIANG HONG
(NRIC No. S1096110/F)
1. Paragraph 1 and 2 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
2. Paragraph 3 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
3. The Defendant does not plead to paragraph 4 of the Statement of Claim, which pleads evidence.
4. Paragraph 5 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
5. The Defendant admits that he is responsible in law for the republication in the Straits Times of the words admittedly spoken by him. Otherwise paragraph 6 of the Statement of Claim is not admitted.
6. It is denied that the Defendant is responsible for the republications alleged in paragraph 7 of the Statement of Claim or that such republications were the natural and probable result of the republication in the Straits Times. The re-publications are too remote for the Defendant to be liable therefor.
7. Insofar as the words spoken by the Defendant referred to "SM" (but not otherwise) it is admitted that the Defendantís words would have been understood to refer to the Plaintiff.
8. It is denied that the words spoken by the Defendant bore the meanings alleged in paragraph 10 of the Statement of Claim.
9. It is denied that the said words bore by innuendo the meanings alleged in paragraph 11 of the Statement of Claim.
10. It is in any event denied that the Plaintiff is entitled, either in support of his contention that the Defendantís words spoken on 30 December 1996 would have been understood to refer to him, or in support of his contention that the said words bore the innuendo meanings pleaded, to rely on newspaper articles and letters written and published after 30 December 1996.
11. Paragraph 12 of the Statement of Claim is not admitted.
12. Further or alternatively the words spoken by
the Defendant were true in substance and in fact.
PARTICULARS OF MEANING
The Defendant will justify the said words in the
following meanings :
PARTICULARS OF MEANING
i. that the Plaintiff had combined with others in the course of the General Election campaign falsely to attribute to the Defendant views which he does not hold and further to misrepresent what the Defendant has said with the deliberate intention of discrediting the Defendant in the estimation of the Singaporean electorate and so preventing his election as a Member of Parliament;
ii. that the Plaintiff, by acting as aforesaid, had committed or may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence against the Penal Code so as to merit investigation by the police;
iii. that the Plaintiff had in conjunction with other senior members of the PAP resorted to dubious and unfair tactics designed to deceive the Singapore voters as to the character and political opinions of the Defendant and thereby ruin his chances of being elected.
PARTICULARS OF JUSTIFICATION
i. The Defendant is neither anti-Christian nor anti-Islam nor anti-Malay nor a Chinese chauvinist nor anti-English educated nor a danger to society. On the contrary he is and was at all material times a firm believer in religious, educational and racial harmony.
ii. In or about August of 1994 the Defendant gave a talk at a National Day dinner, which was attended by Teo Chee Hean, about religious harmony and the steady development of society. Nothing in that talk could possibly warrant the conclusion that the Defendant was a racist or held any of the views referred to at (i) above.
iii. In December 1996 the Defendant was nominated as a candidate in the forthcoming General Election on behalf of the Workersí Party ("the WP"). He stood as a candidate in the Cheng San GRC. The Plaintiffs in this action and in Suits No. 2524 of 1996, 2525 of 1996, 70 of 1997 and 82 of 1997 (hereafter called "the related actions") are all prominent members of the Peoplesí Action Party ("the PAP"). It is their fervent wish to prevent by all means that the election of any opposition Member of Parliament in Singapore. In support of this allegations the Defendant will rely inter alia upon statements made on behalf of the PAP by the Prime Minister and reported respectively in the issue of the Straits Times for 30 and 31 December 1996 to the effect that of course he was biased and wanted to keep the Defendant out of Parliament; that he was so determined to stop the Defendant from getting into Parliament that he was himself standing in the Cheng San GRC constituency and that the fact that the Defendant appeared to be a reasonable man of moderate means was "a difficulty that they (viz the PAP) were going to solve and that they had to plug away and tell people there is a danger".
iv. As the election campaign in the said constituency proceeded, the indications were that the Defendant was a popular candidate who had every prospect of succeeding in being elected. The Defendant will rely in particular of the number of those attending WP rallies and (after discovery) on the surveys of votersí intentions carried out on behalf of the PAP.
v. The Defendant will invite the Court to infer that the senior members of the PAP, including most if not all of the Plaintiffs in this and the related actions, became concerned at the prospect of the Defendant being returned as a Member of Parliament and deliberated on how best to ensure that he was particulars of this allegation after discovery and/or interrogatories and/or service of witness statements.
vi. As a result of the deliberations referred to at (v) above, the Plaintiff along with the Plaintiffs in the related actions over the period from 26 December 1996 until the General Election made a large number of public statements concerning the Defendant in which he was variously described as :-
(b) a Chinese Chauvinist;
(c) anti-English educated;
(d) a dangerous character;
(e) being against Malay-educated;
(f) being anti-Islam; and
(g) being anti-Malay.
vii. In support of the contention in sub-paragraph (vi) above the Defendant will rely by way of example on the following statements made by the Plaintiff and by the Plaintiffs in the related actions in the run-up to the General Election (all of which received, as the Plaintiff knew and intended, the widest publicity in the press and were read by the electors in the Cheng San GRC Constituency) :
viii The Defendant had not in truth expressed extremist views either at the dinner in 1994 or on any other occasion; he is not a racist or a chauvinist; above all, he wants to achieve harmony in the multi-ethnic Singaporean community. He had given the Plaintiff no reason to suppose otherwise. The Defendant repeats paragraph (i) of these Particulars.
ix Accordingly there were no basis in truth for the charges leveled against the Defendant by the Plaintiff and by the Plaintiffs in the related actions, all of whom were guilty of deliberately or recklessly misrepresenting the Defendantís beliefs and opinions for their own political ends and of engaging in dubious and unfair election tactics designed to ruin the chances of the Defendant being elected;
x. further the false accusations of racism, chauvinism, religious bigotry and threatening to undermine the political stability of Singapore were defamatory of the Defendant and/or calculated to cause social and racial disharmony and/or amounted to incitement to individual groups to oppose and threaten harm to the Defendant and to his family. As such they amounted or might well have amounted to breaches of the Singapore penal code and merited investigation by the police;
xi. in the General Election on 2 January 1997, the WP candidates received 44,132 votes. But the PAP candidate received 53,553 votes. Accordingly the Defendant was not elected. The Defendant will contend that the Plaintiff, along with the Plaintiffs in the related actions, achieved, by foul means and by spreading falsehood about the Defendant, his objective of preventing the Defendant being elected.
13. The Defendant will, if necessary, rely on section 8 of the Defamation Act.
14. Further or in further alternative the said words
were published by the Defendant in order to defend himself against the
charges and attacks which had been leveled against him by the Plaintiff
and others, which charges and attacks had received the widest possible
publicity throughout Singapore. Accordingly the said words were published
on an occasion of qualified privilege.
i. The attacks on the Defendant which will be relied on are those referred to in sub-paragraph (vi) and (vii) of paragraph 12 hereof.
ii. the publicity accorded to those attacks was that they received the widest coverage in the press in Singapore (and elsewhere) and the greatest air-time on television and on the radio in Singapore (and elsewhere).
iii. the defence mounted by the Defendant to the said charges was contained in the words complained of herein and was addressed to those readers, listeners and viewer to whom the Plaintiff and the Plaintiffs in the related actions had addressed their charges against the Defendant.
15. Paragraph 13 of the Statement of Claim is expressly denied. The Plaintiff suffered no damage by reason of the words spoken by the Defendant. Alternatively if any such damage was suffered by the Plaintiff, it was suffered by reason of the attacks on the Defendant in which the Plaintiff joined (as alleged in the Particulars under paragraph 14 hereof) and on that account the Defendant should not be held liable therefor.
16. It is denied that the Plaintiff is entitled to aggravated damages whether by reason of the matters particularized in paragraph 14 of the Statement of Claim or at all.
17. Without prejudice to the generality of the denial
in paragraph 17 hereof, the Defendant will contend that sub-paragraphs
(e) to (k) of paragraph 14 of the Statement of Claim inclusive disclose
no entitlement to aggravated damages because there is no allegation that
these matters caused injury or hurt to the Plaintiff.
18. Save as hereinbefore expressly admitted the Defendant denies each and every allegation of fact contained in the Statement of Claim as if the same were set forth herein and specifically traversed.
Dated the 24th January 1997.
Solicitor for the Defendant
To : The above named Plaintiff
and his Solicitors
Messrs Drew & Napier
(Ref : HRK/DS 90314/DN-LKY.WPD/cl (DS 2A)