IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
Suit No. 82 )
of 1997 )
DEFENCE OF FIRST DEFENDANT
PARTICULARS OF MEANING
The First Defendant will justify the said words in the following meanings:
(1) The Plaintiff has combined with others ("the person named in the police report") to make untrue and defamatory allegations to the effects that the First Defendant is an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist; anti-English educated; and that some of his statements will cause racial and social disharmony and disruption in Singapore.
(2) By making the allegations set out in paragraph 16(1) herein to the mass media the Plaintiff and the persons named in the police report incited or caused many people to believe the allegations to be true and further caused or incited or might cause or incite religious extremists to hate the First Defendant so as to give rise to a real apprehension of serious harm to members of his family and to him.
(3) In the premises there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the
Plaintiff and the other persons named in the police report had or might
have committed offences against the penal codes [NAMELY] so as to merit
investigation by the police or at the very least the conduct of the Plaintiff
and the persons named in the police report merited investigation by the
police and, if appropriate, measures being taken in order to protect the
First Defendant and his family from physical harm.
PARTICULARS OF JUSTIFICATION
16.1 The First Defendant is not an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist, anti-English educated, or someone whose statements will cause social and racial disharmony and disruption in Singapore; nor is he a racist or a trouble-maker. On the contrary he is and was at all material times a firm believer in religious, educational and racial harmony.
16.2 In or about August 1994 the First Defendant gave a talk to the Zeng Yi Association at a National Day dinner, which was attended by Teo Chee Hean, about religious harmony and the steady development of society. Nothing in the talk could possibly warrant the conclusion that the First Defendant was a racist or held any of the views referred to under the Particulars of Meaning.
16.3 In December 1996 the First 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 Plaintiff in this action, the Plaintiffs in the related actions referred to in paragraph 1 of the Defence and referred to in the police report as set out in paragraph 3 of the Statement of Claim, are all prominant members of the Peoplesí Action Party ("the PAP"). It is their fervent wish to prevent by all possible means the election of any opposition Member of Parliament in Singapore. In support of this allegation the First Defendant will rely inter alia upon statements made on behalf of the PAP by Prime Minister Goh 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 First Defendant out of Parliament; that he was so determined to stop the First Defendant getting into Parliament that he was himself standing in the Cheng San GRC constituency and that the fact that the First 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".
16.4 As the election campaign in the said constituency proceeded, the indications were that the First Defendant was a popular candidate who had every prospect of succeeding in being elected. The First Defendant will rely in particular of the numbers of those attending WP rallies and (after discovery) on the surveys of votersí intentions carried out on behalf of PAP.
16.5 The First 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, and those named in the police report complained of herein, became concerned at the prospect of the First Defendant being returned as a Member of Parliament and deliberated how best to ensure that he was discredited and in due course defeated. The First Defendant will give further particulars of this allegation after discovery and/or interrogatories and/or service of witness statements.
16.6 As a result of the deliberations referred to at paragraph 16.5 above, the Plaintiff along with the Plaintiffs in the related actions over the period from 25 December 1996 until the General Election made a large number of public statements concerning the First Defendant in which he was variously described as
(b) a Chinese chauvinist;
(c) anti-English educated;
(d) a dangerous character;
(e) being against the Malay-educated;
(f) being anti-Islam; and
(g) being anti-Malay.
16.7 In support of the contention in paragraph 16.6 above the First Defendant will rely by way of example on the following statements made by the Plaintiff, the Plaintiffs in the related actions, and the persons named in the police report, in the run-up to the General Election (all of which received, as their authors knew and intended, the widest publicity in the press and were read by the electors in the Cheng San GRC constituency) :
(a) The First Defendant adopts the contents of the sub-paragraphs (v), (vi) and (vii) of paragraph 21(c) the Statement of Claim.
(b) as reported in the issue of the Straits Times for 27 December 1996, Rear Admiral Teo, the Environment Minister and a prominent member of the PAP, a Plaintiff in one of the related actions and a person named in the police report, alleged that at a dinner he had attended in Singapore in 1994 the First Defendant had said "improper things", drawn outrageous implications and indulged in dangerous talk, with the result that he (Teo) had concluded that the First Defendant was an extremist; that if elected the WP candidates would undermine Singaporeís political stability, bankrupt the country and sow disharmony in the community;
(c) according to the same issue of the Straits Times Prime Minister Goh described the First Defendant as a "dangerous character"; a covert opponent of the governmentís education policy, especially on Chinese language and culture; as playing and plugging a very dangerous line and as a person with "extreme ideas";
(d) in the same article it was reported that Chíng Jit Koon, a prominant member of the PAP, a Plaintiff in a related action, and a person named in the police report, has stated that the First Defendant had "rather extreme and insensitive" views on culture and ethnic issues, and stated that the First Defendant "was inclined to speak like a Chinese chauvinist";
(e) the article went on to refer to comments about the First Defendant made by Dr Ow Chin Hock, a prominant member of the PAP, a Plaintiff in a related action and a person named in the police report. He stated that he had two reservations about the First Defendant : his "extreme positions on Chinese language and culture issues" and his "emotional and temperamental" nature;
(f) the Straits Times for 27 December 1996 also published an article on the PAPís first election rally at Hougang Stadium entitled "Jeya and Tang are strange bedfellows : SM". The article reported that Lee Kuan Yew, a prominent member of the PAP, a Plaintiff in a related action and a person named in the police report, had accused the First Defendant and J. B. Jeyaretnam, the head of the Workersí Party, of being "language chauvinists" brought together by political opportunism and that the First Defendant was a "Chinese-language chauvinist". Mr Lee went on to state that both menís cultural chauvinism proved they were political opportunists. Mr Lee also alleged that the First Defendant had stated that there were too many Christians in Parliament;
(g) on 27 December 1996 the Straits Times published an article entitled "Serious Men vs Opportunists". This article reported comments made by Prime Minister Goh and Lee Kuan Yew that the First Defendant was a "Chinese chauvinist" who held "radical views" on the promotion of the Chinese language and culture in Singapore. They warned that those views would undermine Singaporeís racial peace. Mr Lee stated that the First Defendant was "anti English-educated and anti-Christian" Prime Minister Goh also stated that :
(i) several Members of Parliament had urged that the First Defendant should not be allowed to enter Parliament as his views could divide the country; and that
(ii) the First Defendant had said in a speech in 1994 that many Cabinet Ministers an top civil servants were Christians and English-educated. Prime Minister Goh stated that this was a "dangerous position" as it amounted to advocating a racial quota system for appointments to top posts rather than based on meritocracy.
(h) On 28 December 1996 the Straits Times reported on a Hong Kah GRC rally which took place on 27 December 1996. The article, entitle "PM to Tang: repeat 1994 statements in public", reported that the Prime Minister Goh had alleged that the First Defendant, at a dinner in 1994, had stated that there were too many English-educated Christian ministers and permanent secretaries. Prime Minister Goh went on to imply that the First Defendant would damage racial harmony in Singapore.
(i) The same article reported that at the same rally Ker Sin Tze had stated that if electors voted for the First Defendant, minority communities would feel very uncomfortable and that if elected his views on race and immigration would damage Singaporeís trade, tourism and reputation.
(j) In an article published in the Straits Times Interactive on 29 December 1996 entitled "PAP focuses on Tang Liang Hong threat" it was reported that Dr Ow Chin Hock had stated that the First Defendant posed a danger to Singaporeís multi-cultural and multi-racial society. Chíng Jit Koon had also been a participant in the press conference. The article also reported that Prime Minister Goh had released several documents to the press regarding the First Defendant and that he had stated the the First Defendant would, if elected to Parliament, have a "damaging impact" on Singaporeís multi-racial and multi-lingual society. Among the documents were letters from Chin Ham Tong, Chíng Jit Koon, Ow Chin Hock and Ker Sin Tze, all of whom are prominent members of the PAP and plaintiffs in related actions. All of these letters pointed out that the First Defendant held extreme positions on issues such as Chinese language, culture and civilization. The article also reported that Lee Kuan Yew had stated that the First Defendantís views on race and culture were dangerous.
(k) On 30 December 1996 the Strait Times, in an article entitled "PM Goh: Iím ready to go to court" reported a speech made by Prime Minister Goh at a PAP rally in Jalan Besar. He used the speech to repeat his allegations that the First Defendant is a Chinese chauvinist.
(l) In an article entitled "More Chinese-educated needed in parliament too many Christians in Cabinet" published on 31 December 1996 in the Straits Times, statements made by Seng Han Thong and a prominent member of the PAP, at a PAP rally on 30 December 1996 were reported. He stated that the First Defendant had told him that more Chinese-educated people were needed in Parliament and that there were too many Christains in the Cabinet.
(m) On 31 December 1996 the Business Times, under the heading "Heard and Seen", quoted Lee Kuan Yew as saying of the First Defendant : "If heís against the English-educated, he must be against the Malay-educated even more. If he is against Christainity, he must be against Islam even more because Islam represents even a deeper exclusiveness. So this approach must be destructive".
(n) In three official pamphlets published by the PAP allegations were made against the First Defendant :
(i) An official election pamphlet published by the PAP entitled "Open letter to Cheng San voters : Tang Liang Hongís Dangerous Views" was issued by the 5 PAP candidates for the Cheng San GRC, inlcuding the Plaintiff. The letter was republished in the Straits Times on 31 December 1996. The pamphlet described the First Defendant as "an extremist on Chinese culture and language" and falsely reported the First Defendant as having stated that "Chinese-educated Singaporeans should sit in a sedan chair and the English-educated should carry the sedan chair".
(ii) A pamphlet entitled "Open Letter to Singaporeans. PM, said: Sue us. Tang Liang Hongís Dangerous Views (II)" stated that the First Defendant holds "extreme views on Chinese language and culture". It went on to state that in 1994 the First Defendant told Teo Chee Hean that there were too many Christains and English-Educated people in the Government and that the First Defendantís subsequent denial of this statement meant that he was also a liar. The pamphlet also reported that he had told Seng Han Thong in April 1996 that there were too many Christians in the Cabinet. It then went on to say that the Plaintiff and Lee Kuan Yew believed that the First Defendant was a "Chinese chauvinist, anti-Christian and anti-English educated".
(iii) In a pamphlet entitled "Open Letter to Singaporeans. Support PM, Reject Tang Liang Hong. Tang Liang Hongís Dangerous Views (III)" it was stated that the First Defendantís view endangered Singaporeís multi-racial and multi-religious society.
(o) On 31 December 1996 the Straits Times published an article entitled: "Tang must be dealt with before the damage is done". The article reported comments made by Prime Minister Goh on the previous evening regarding the First Defendant. Prime Minister Goh had stated that the First Defendant possessed extreme views on Chinese language and culture which would damage Singapore and its relations with other countries. He warned that the First Defendant held similar views to the Australian MP, who had expressed anti-Asian views which had divided Australia and caused increased attacks against immigrants. Such had been the revulsion at her remarks that Malaysia had reconsidered its policy of sending its students to Australian universities.
(p) On 31 December 1996 the Straits Times published an article entitled "Chinese-educated "must decide what they want for the future". In the said article Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew stated that the First Defendant had behaved like the racist Australian MP, Pauline Hanson, who expressed racist views on language and culture, that he intended to introduce a Chinese dominated society which would destroy racial peace by causing conflict between the different races in Singapore; and that it was important to create a society in which people such as the First Defendant were not able to express racist views or behave in a racist and abusive manner towards other people.
(q) On 31 December 1996 the Straits Times published an article entitled : "Why Chinese chauvinism will destroy Singapore : SM". The article reported a speech made by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew on the previous day. It reported that he had stated that the First Defendant was a Chinese Chauvinist and that if Singapore allowed his Chinese chauvinism to infect Singapore it would result in its destruction. It would cause the Chinese to seek a dominant role for their race, culture and language over other races, cultures and languages. The racial conflict that would come about as a result of this would be similar to that which occured in Rwanda, Somalia, the Lebanon and former Yugoslavia. It would result in the deaths of a significant proportion of the population of Singapore. Singapore could go the way of Beirut; its highly successful, wealthy and peaceful status would be destroyed by inter-racial warfare.
(r) On 1 January 1997 the Lianhe Zaobao published an article entitled "Two Deputy Prime Ministers Join the Campaign to Assist Cheng San Constituency". The article reported that Lee Hsien Loong, a prominent member of the PAP, a plaintiff in a related action and a person named in the police report, had stated that the First Defendant was an anti-Christian and anti-English educated Chinese chauvinsit whose views could cause great problems for Singapore. Mr Lee also reported as stating that the First Defendant constituted a threat to the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual an multi-religious society of Singapore.
16.8 The First 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 First Defendant repeats paragraph 16.1 of these Particulars.
16.9 Accordingly there were no basis in truth for the defamatory charges levelled against the First Defendant by the Plaintiff and the persons named in the police report, all of whom were intentionally misrepresenting the First Defendantís beliefs and opinions for their own political ends.
16.10 Further the false accusations of racism, chauvinism, religious
bigotry and threatening to undermine the political stability of Singapore
were calculated to cause social and racial disharmony and/or amounted to
incitement to individual groups to oppose and threaten to harm the First
Defendant and to his family. As such they amounted, or alternatively there
were reasonable grounds for suspecting that they amounted, to offences
against the penal code, [as outlines in paragraph 16(c) herein] so as to
merit investigation by the police or at the very least the conduct of the
Plaintiff and the persons named in the police report merited investigation
by the police, and, if appropriate, measures being taken in order to prevent
the First Defendant and his family from physical harm.
(1) The Plaintiff and the other persons named in the police report had committed or may reasonably have been suspected of having committed, and were reasonably expected to further commit offences against the penal code so as to merit investigation by the police.
(2) The attacks upon the First Defendant relied on are those referred to in paragraph 16.7 herein. The First Defendant repeats those paragraphs.
(3) The impact of those attacks was heightened by the great number of them over a relatively short period of time, such that the attacks upon the First Defendant became central or alternatively a major element of the General Election campaign. The Defendant also relies on the dramatic escalation of those attacks immediately prior to the filing of the police report, such that the First Defendant was in fear of a further and yet more serious escalation in the ferocity of the attacks. The Defendant refers to those statements made by a number of persons named in the police report in and set out in paragraphs 16.7 (m), (o), (p) and (q) herein, which were published on 31 December 1996.
(4) The attacks received the widest coverage in the press and the greated air-time on television and on the radio in Singapore.
(5) The attacks used strong and emotive language such as was likely to incite persons to hate the First Defendant and his family and to want to cause him and his family physical harm.
(6) In order to protect himself and his family and those closely associated with him, the First Defendant had a duty to request help of the appropriate authority, the police force.
(7) The First Defendant and his family were threatened with physical
danger as a result of the emotive language deployed against him.
Dated this 12th day of February, 1997
Solicitors for the First Defendant
IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
Suit No. 82 )
of 1997 )
DEFENSE OF THE FIRST DEFENDANT