Tang Liang Hong

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Scary innovation in law of trust is taking shape

Hearing between 9-13 November 1998 in Singapore High Court

To determine 13 Mareva Injunctions by Lee Kuan Yew & orders against my wife Mdm Teo Siew Har

The Singapore High Court will commence hearing from next Monday till Friday the 9-13 November 1998 to decide the claims by Lee Kuan Yew and other cabinet ministers of the Singapore People’s Action Party’s (PAP) government against my wife, Madam Teo Siew Har in respect of her assets seized by them under 13 Mareva injunctions which were obtained by deceitful, misleading and false statement under oath/affirmation (a crime of perjury with mandatory jail sentence upon conviction ) by PAP leaders in their affidavits in support of their applications for the injunctions, that I had caused the release of my police report to the press for publication. I shall explain further this event below.

To pump fears into the minds of Singaporeans has been a key policy of the PAP government. With the subtle collaboration from the judiciary, the PAP government not only has extensively used legal actions against its opposition , but also has used them against members of their family and their assets, with a view to harass and cow its opponents into submission. It has implemented this policy of creating fears in the minds of its people openly so as to achieve the desired effect of frightening away all potential opposition to the PAP, so that it may remain in power forever. As an opposition I have refused to be cowed into submission, and consequently, my wife and our children, have thus been publicly put to much sufferings and made to taste the bitterness of a broken home in Singapore.

Below are some background facts which show as to how the PAP leaders, being politicians in power, have abused their executive powers illegally and cruelly, in throwing my wife into the legal typhoon generated and designed by them to crush her.

1, The Cabinet’s decision to ‘debunk and to demolish’ me

The Singapore opposition political party, the Workers’ Party on 23 December 1996 announced that I was one of its candidates for the General Election to be held on 2 January 1997. The cabinet members of the People’s Action Party (PAP) government, according to Lee Kuan Yew own statement under oath in court, discussed my "strange appearance" as a candidate and decided that I must be "debunked and demolished" quickly to stop the Chinese-educated Chinese to rekindle their fire of hope to come back to the Singapore political arena. They also discussed the way and means to demolish me. To the PAP, it is a matter of course that the Chinese-educated Chinese, being the majority in number in Singapore, must be continually marginalized in politics in Singapore. Under all circumstances, I must not be given any chance to speak up for them to raise their hope.

2. Mischievous Massive Smear Campaign

Immediately after Christmas Day, Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and other PAP ministers and leaders, through the powerful public media under their absolute control, started its massive propaganda campaign against me and charged that I was an anti-Christian, anti-Islam, anti-Malay, and anti-English-educated Chinese chauvinist and that my views and ideas would eventually cause religious conflicts and would disrupt social and racial harmony in Singapore and would lead to bloodshed in Singapore as what had taken place in Sri Lanka, Rwanda and elsewhere. These kinds of baseless accusations against me in such a massive way in a multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-religious society like Singapore, immediately put me and my family in danger and at the same time, they were laying the grounds for my arrest under the Internal Security Act under which I can be arrested and detained for a very long time without trial. Of course, if some misguided religious extremists would harm me and get rid of me for them as a result of PAP’s false accusations, it would have been better for them.

3. Abuse of Legal Process with the Collaboration from Singapore public media and the police

When interviewed by a reporter from the Singapore Straits Times inviting me to make response to PAP’s attacks, I denied their aforesaid false accusations and said that they were lying and that I would lodge a police report against them for that. Lee Kuan Yew and others sued me immediately for defamation for saying that. Immediately we received anonymous letters from persons claiming to be Christians and Muslims threatening to harm me and my family. On the 1 January 1997, I made a police report against 11 PAP leaders and sought police protections for me and members of my family. To my surprise, copy of my police report appeared in the Singapore press the next day. Lee Kuan Yew and son Lee Hsien Loong and Goh Chok Tong and all others named in my police report sued me for defamation for the publication of my police report in the press. Many people were shocked in August 1997 when Goh Chok Tong disclosed in court under cross-examination by George Carmen QC from London that he (Goh Chok Tong) was the one who had ordered the Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kun Seng to report to him immediately should I make a police report as I had declared earlier and that the Singapore police had given copy of my police report to Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew within two hours from my making it for their political purposes and for them to release to the press and for their instituting legal actions against me. Goh Chok Tong further disclosed that it was he who authorised Lee Kuan Yew to release my police report to the public media in Singapore for publication. As a result of this publication, Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP leaders instituted further actions against me for defamation. It became clear that many of their statements of claim and many of their affidavits filed in court in support of their applications, including their applications for Mareva injunctions and for assessments of damages against me and or my wife were false and misleading. The law enforcement agencies have so far kept quiet about it. The rule of law of Singlish brand has double standard and is therefore unique. Singapore journalists have filed about 50 affidavits to support the PAP leaders’ claims against me and my wife. But none of them had the decency to disclose the fact that it was Lee Kuan Yew who had given them my police report for their publication. Some of these journalists will come to court on 9-13 November 1998 to help the PAP leaders to ‘legally’ establish a bogey trust against my wife’s assets.

4. Flee for Dear Life and Freedom

On the 2 January 1997, the Workers’ Party team of candidates ( Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam, myself and three others) lost narrowly to the PAP team for the Cheng San Constituency. While I was on my way home in the early morning on the 3 January after the results of the Election were announced, my car was closely followed by several cars belonging to the secret police officers from the Internal Security Department. I managed to get away from them after an exciting car race on Singapore roads in the early morning. I did not go home that day. In the late afternoon, to avoid arrest, I managed to slip out of Singapore and went to Johor Bahru of Malaysia after a press conference given by the Workers’ Party in the after noon that day.

5. The Singapore Court instantly Striking out my Applications to Strike Out

Soon after, I was in London actively making preparations for my defences and counter-claims against the PAP leaders. At the advice of my Queen’s Counsel, I filed applications in Court to strike out the PAP leaders’ multiple defamation suits on the ground of ‘abuse of legal process’ by their misusing of the law of defamation to oppress political opposition. I also applied for a short extension of time to file my defences should my applications to strike out fail. My applications were filed late in the afternoon on 23 January 1997. Just within an hour or so, my law firm was surprisingly informed by the Court Registry that my said applications had been fixed for hearing in the early morning next day. On 24 January, all my applications were thrown out by the court and I was ordered to pay costs, on the ground that my applications were ‘an abuse of legal process instead ‘ and unconventionally disallowed any extension of time to me, not even for a day, to enable me to organise my defences. My law firm had to rush to file my defences before 4 p.m. that day to avoid judgements in default of defence to be entered against me. If I were to appeal on these decisions, I would be put to incur expensive legal costs and disbursements which I could not afford to meet. I disclosed publicly that I was going to sell my assets to fight them in courts, the PAP leaders distorted it into accusation against me and my wife that we were taking steps to remove our assets out of Singapore

6. To totally paralyse us financially with a view to destroy our resistant strength

On 27 January 1998, the PAP Government demonstrated its prowess in its attack against its opposition. On that evening, my wife together with my daughter intended to pay a visit to my personal good friend, Mr. Abdul Razak Ahmad at his home in Johor Bahru during Ramadan fasting month. They were stopped at the Singapore exit point at the causeway by immigration officers who disallowed them to leave Singapore. They searched my wife’s handbag and confiscated her passport. On her return home at midnight from the immigration office at the causeway, a group of lawyers representing Lee Kuan Yew and the other PAP leaders in their multiple defamation suits against me, were waiting for my wife at our doorstep. It turned out that on that the PAP leaders had obtained 13 Mareva Injunctions against us on the ground (alleged by Lee Kuan Yew in his affidavit without evidence or poor quality of evidence if the were evidence at all). These injunctions froze all my assets up to the limit of S$ 11.2 million and demanded that I had to disclose my assets on a world basis under oath. Those lawyers also served on her copies of 13 Writs of Summonses (including HPL case for which I was allowed to engage a Queen’s counsel in June 1996 ). The 13 Mareva injunctions also made my wife a second defendant of the 13 lawsuits against me for defamation which do not concern her at all. The13 Mareva injunction orders also froze all her assets on a world wide basis up to the limit of S$ 11.2 million. The injunction orders also demanded her to disclose all her assets by way of an affidavit to be filed with 4 days from 27 January 1998. Lee Kuan Yew alleged without any basis that my wife had held all her assets as trustee for me. But that kind of bare allegation of trust and the offensive allegation that Johor Bahru of Malaysia was a crime-infested place together with the lie that I had caused my police report against them to be released to the press for publication thereby damaging their reputation seriously and that I was therefore liable for huge damages for defamation, as made by and as contained in Lee Kuan Yew’s affidavit in support of his application for Mareva injunction orders were accepted by Judge Lai Kew Chai in total as good ground and evidence for granting the 13 Mareva injunction orders against us. J. Lai created legal history by granting Mareva injunction in the law of defamatiom before judgement. In fact this move was nothing more than just a part of a financial cold turkey operation, with a view to freeze all our financial source to paralyse our financial strength to resist their attacks by way of legal actions.

  1. Chinese Cultural Revolution re-run in Singapore
  2. When these lawyers left our home after having served the injunction orders on my wife, a battalion of Inland Revenue Officials stormed into our house and ransacked our home. They carted away tons of documents and articles from us. They also carried out simultaneously similar raid at my office in the city. Up to date they have not returned any item of documents or articles seized from us.

    On 28 April 1998, when applying to expunge his offensive statements from his affidavit after having apologised twice to the Malaysian government and people for having made those offensive statements, Lee Kuan Yew disclosed that my wife’s passport was cancelled because the PAP leaders would otherwise not be able to recover damages from me if she was allowed to leave Singapore as she, as alleged by him, had held assets as trustee for me. This was a blatant abuse of Executive power for private litigation. When Lee Kuan Yew could not get at me, so he got hold of my wife and her assets and her passport to limit her personal freedom. An oriental gentleman for Asian values indeed.

  3. Multiplying legal costs to paralyse us financially
  4. (1) I did not comply these 13 Mareva injunction orders as I knew that they were just traps laid for me. I knew very well that no matter how much efforts and care that I would put in the preparation of a list of my assets, it would certainly contain some kind of mistakes or omissions which in turn would be more than sufficient grounds for any Singapore court to convict me for cheating or perjury. I would be turned into a criminal instantly. I had to make a choice between two devils. I decided not to prepare my list of assets as demanded on me by the 13 Mareva injunction orders, running the risk of being in contempt of court. On 17 February 1998, the PAP leaders obtained 13 more orders for appointment of receiver to take over all my assets, including my law firm’s accounts which eventually caused the collapse and closure of my legal firm. They in fact served the 13 applications for appointment of receiver over my wife’s assets on my law firm in the afternoon and the hearing for such applications were fixed for hearing at 5 p.m. that very same day. My wife could not find any lawyers in town in such a short notice willing to act for her. She applied for a short adjournment to enable to get a lawyer to act for her and to explain to her what the applications were all about. Judge Lai Kew Chai refused her application and she finally broke down and cried in court. Mr Davinder Singh, counsel for Lee Kuan Yew however remarked that my wife was trying to win the court’s sympathy by her tears. By this order, my wife’s entire assets in Singapore were frozen and taken over by the receiver, including her house, her bank accounts and her joint accounts with our children and her niece (her sister’s daughter).

    (2) The Singapore court refused our respective applications to have the multiple lawsuits to be consolidated. In addition, they intentionally separated the cases against my wife’s cases from those against me so we had to engage two sets of lawyers to multiply our legal costs and expenditure. We ended up to have to face 13 sets of lawsuits each, totalling 26 sets of them. We had to face 26 sets of costs whenever making applications, such as making applications to consolidate our cases or to get a London Queen’s counsel to represent us or making appeals or otherwise. We always failed in whatever applications we made and the PAP leaders would always succeed in whatever applications they chose to make. We as a matter of certainty had to pay them costs. In this way, we have already spent and incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars by way of costs and disbursements. As a matter of fact, we have been fighting them with our hands tied. We do not have unlimited resources of funds to continue to face the legal battles mounted on us by them.

  5. Emergency night-sitting to pre-empt Queen’s counsel coming from London

I remained however determined to fight the lawsuits. I made an application to stop Justice Lai Kew Chai from presiding over the cases against me on the ground of apparent bias, as J. Lai was an ex partner in the law firm of Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and a family friend of the Lee family. In addition, Justice Lai himself together with Lee Kuan Yew and son and members of their family and relatives were among the so-called "early-bird purchasers" of the HPL property. The early-birds purchasers obtained deep discounts from HPL when they purchased the HPL property. Goh Chok Ton had said earlier that the involvement of Lee Kuan Yew and son in HPL property needed to be investigated. The father and son sued me for defamation for raising a query, when approached by a reporter from a Hongkong weekly in May 1996, as to why the matter was not referred to the Corruption Practice Investigation Bureau (CPIB). As J. Lai was also one of the early-bird purchasers, I therefore objected to his being the trial judge and therefore applied for him to be replaced another judge.. The PAP leaders made counter applications to strike out all my defences (including the HPL case) for not filing my list of assets as ordered by J. Lai. All these applications were fixed by the High court registry for hearing before J. Lai himself on 10 March 1997. My counsel, Mr. Jeyaretnam applied for a short adjournment so that Mr. Gray QC, who represented me in the HPL case, could fly from London immediately to appear on my behalf. J. Lai after lengthy arguments from the parties, refused the adjournment application and also refused to recluse himself from hearing the cases. When J. Lai made the decisions, it was already late in the evening. However, the hearing of the applications by Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP leaders to striking out my defences, were urgently fixed for decision before another judge immediately that very night, so that my Queen’s counsel could not come to Singapore in time to represent me and so that Lee Kuan Yew and son could avoid being cross-examined by my Queen’s counsel on HPL affairs. During that emergency night-hearing, Justice Goh Joon Seng struck out all my defences as expected.

  1. Function of Singapore courts to furnish legal cover of legitimacy

Of course, the powerful Singapore public media -- the PAP propaganda machinery announced to the whole world that Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP leaders had fought and won a "legal" battles in their defamation suits against me. This is the type of "legal cover" of legitimacy the PAP government has always sought for their illegitimate actions against their opposition in Singapore.

11. The Receiver has been acting in conflict of Interests

Mr. Nicky Tan of Price Waterhouse, Singapore was appointed as the receiver on 17 February 1997 over my estate and the estate of my wife. He was an official of the court and owed an equal duty of care to me and my wife. He however acted in a totally biased and prejudicial manner against my wife’s interests throughout. He delayed in the payment of salaries to the staffs of my law firm and weekly allowance of one thousand dollars to my wife as ordered by the court, from my accounts under his in his control and management thereby causing her tremendous hardship at a time when all our assets were frozen. In his capacity as a receiver with certain privileges as an official of the court, he however was going all out at our costs and disbursements to collect evidence for Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP leaders, by collecting evidence with a view of helping them to establish the alleged trust my wife was a bare trustee for me in respect of her assets. He objected to my wife’s applications in court to sell her house by way of public auction or by private treaty respectively in March and April 1997, on the ground that public tender would fetch a better price for it. He also refused potential buyers obtained by my daughter for the house. He allowed the value of the property to continue to fall and interest on the mortgage loan to continue to mount without any benefit to anyone except to the prejudice of my wife’s interest. He only attempted to sell the property by public tender towards the end of 1997 when, according to him, there was no bidder at all for the house.

The PAP leaders have indicated that they will not be coming to court to give evidence personally. To me it is clear that they do not want to subject them to be cross-examined in court for this absurd against my wife. In this coming hearing fixed on 9-13 November 1998, The receiver is going to be the star witness for the PAP leaders’ claims against my wife. The PAP leaders are obviously making use of the international standing of his reputable firm to do a dirty job.

12. The Mortgagee Bank has also gone cranky

(1) My wife’s mortgagee bank is Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). Since I slipped out of Singapore on 3 January 1997, my wife had not serviced the interest of the mortgage loan on her house and she was taking active steps to sell her house and to redeem the mortgage loan. This is the only way to pay off the bank. Her efforts were frustrated when Lee Kuan Yew and others slammed her with the injunction order which ordered that only the receiver had the sole right of sale. Her applications to the court for an order to allow her to sell the property was opposed by the receiver. This however did not affect the right of sale by OCBC as secured creditor. For more than one year, the bank refused to exercise its right of sale notwithstanding my wife’s repeated requests. Now, the market value of the property has dropped below the loan and interest.

Mortgagee in breach of banking secrecy

(2) In addition, several senior officers of the Bank, in contradiction to banking law which demands banking secrecy in banking transactions, have filed several affidavits in support of Lee Kuan Yew’s allegation of trust. They are coming to court this coming hearing to give evidence to assist Lee Kuan Yew to make claim to the property of my wife against the interest of the bank as her mortgagee. One can only find such kind of cranky conduct from bankers in Singapore. To understand this, one has to realise that Dr. Tony Tan is also one of the PAP leaders who sue me. He together with his uncle holds l substantial share interest in OCBC. He was the bank’s executive chairman before he went back to join the PAP’s cabinet as its deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence. Another PAP leader suing me is Lee Hsien Loong, son of Lee Kuan Yew. He is also another deputy Prime Minister cum Head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore which is in charge of and be responsible for the issuance or cancellation of banking licences in Singapore.

(3) Political Culture affects Banking Transactions in Singapore

Any body having knowledge of political culture in Singapore knows very well that Banks have to act very carefully so as not to invoke any displeasure of from the PAP otherwise political mines will definitely explode and blast them to pieces. The bank for more than a year, refused to sell my wife’s property notwithstanding repeated requests from my wife who could no long service the interest and the fact that I, as her guarantee to the bank, had left Singapore and had faced a judgement entered against me by Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP’s leaders, in a sum more than $ 8 millions ( later in September 97 reduced to $3.8 excluding legal costs). OCBC only sued my wife in August 1998 when the entire loan and the interest had exceeded the market value of her property. The Singapore High Court however has refused to allow her to dispute liability for the entire amount of interest and to counterclaim for damages arising from the very extraordinary and unreasonable conduct on its part in the transaction. My wife is in the course of filing her appeal against the decision of the high court on this. She has thus been put to expenses again. The most sinister part of it is that my wife will eventually be made to appear to having been crushed and her assets taken away by a seemingly commercial bank in the ordinary banking transactions without any smack of political manoeuvre.


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