IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

Suit No. 82 )

)

of 1997 )


Between

  • LEE YOCK SUAN
  • (NRIC No. S0406096B)

  • ...Plaintiff

    and 

  • TANG LIANG HONG
    (NRIC No. S1096110F)
  • TEO SIEW HAR
    (NRIC No. not available)
  •  

    ... Defendants

     

     

    DEFENCE OF FIRST DEFENDANT

    1. The First Defendant contends that this suit, along with Suits Nos 2523, 2524 and 2525 of 1996 and Suit Nos 70, 76, 172, 181, 182, 187 and 188 of 1997 ("the related actions"), is an abuse of the process of the Court and should be struck out or stayed. This Defence is served without prejudice to that contention.
       
    2. Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the Statement of Claim are admitted.
       
    3. Paragraph 4 of the Statement of Claim is denied, save that it is averred that the First Defendant informed Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam that he has filed two police reports, including the police report which is the subject matter of this action ("the police report") against "Mr Goh Chok Tong and his team" and that Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam spoke words to similar effect at the rally. It is specifically denied that the First Defendant published a copy of the police report to Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam.
       
    4. The First Defendant admits that he is responsible in law for the republication by Mr JB Jeyaretnam of words to the effect that he had filed two police report against "Mr Goh Chok Tong and his team". In all other respects paragraph 5 of the Statement of Claim is denied.
       
    5. Paragraph 6 of the Statement of Claim is not admitted.
       
    6. Paragraph 7 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
       
    7. It is denied that the First Defendant is responsible for the republication alleged in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Statement of Claim or that such republication was the natural and probable result of the original publication of the police report. The republication is too remote for the First Defendant to be liable for therefor.
       
    8. Paragraph 9 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
       
    9. It is denied that the First Defendant is responsible for the republication alleged in paragraph 9 and 10 of the Statement of Claim or that such republicatioin was the natural and probable result of the original publication of the police report. The republication is too remote for the First Defendant to be liable therefor.
       
    10. Paragraph 11 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
       
    11. It is denied that the First Defendant is responsible for the republication alleged in paragraph 11 and 12 of the Statement of Claim or that such republication was the natural and probable result of the original publication of the police report. The republication is too remote for the First Defendant to be liable therefor.
       
    12. Paragraph 13 of the Statement of Claim is admitted.
       
    13. It is denied that the words published by the First Defendant in the Police Report bore the meanings alleged in paragraph 14 of the Statement of Claim.
       
    14. It is denied that the words published by the First Defendant in the Police Report bore the innuendo meanings alleged in paragraph 15 of the Statement of Claim.
       
    15. Paragraph 16 of the Statement of Claim is not admitted.
       
    16. Further or alternatively, the words published by the First Defendant were true in substance and in fact :


    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  

    (a) anti-Christian; 

    (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) :

    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 First Defendant will, if necessary, rely on section 8 of the Defamation Act.
       
    2. Further, or in the further alternative, the First Defendant had a legal and/or civic and/or moral and/or social duty to publish the police report to the police regarding the aforesaid conduct of the Plaintiff and the persons named in the police report. Alternatively, by publishing the report to the police the Plaintiff was acting in the reasonable protection of his family and himself against risk of physical injury. The police had a corresponding legal and/or civic and/or moral and/or social duty toreceive the police report. Accordingly the said words were published on an occassion of qualified privilege.

    PARTICULAR

     

    (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.
     

    1. Paragraph 17 of the Statement of Claim is denied
    2. Paragraph 18 of the Statement of Claim is denied
       
    3. Paragraph 19 of the Statement of Claimis expressly denied. The Plaintiff suffered no damage by reason of the words published by the First Defendant. Alternatively, if any such damage was suffered by the Plaintiff joined (as alleged in paragraph 16.7 herein) and on that account the First Defendant should not be held liable therefor.
    4. It is denied that the Plaintiff is entitled to aggravated damages by reason of the matter particularised in paragraph 20 of the Statement of Claim or at all.
       
    5. Paragraph 21 of the Statement of Claim is denied.

     

    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 )

     

    Between

  • LEE YOCK SUAN
    (NRIC No. S0406096B)

  • ...Plaintiff

    and
     

  • TANG LIANG HONG
    (NRIC No. S1096110F)
  • TEO SIEW HAR
    (NRIC No. not available)

     
  • ... Defendants

    DEFENSE OF THE FIRST DEFENDANT