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A REBUTTAL TO PAP MEDIA CRUCIFIXION OF DR CHEE SOON JUAN

This article first appeared on or about Friday 13th June 2008 on the SDP website as a vantage piece. It is also my first article contribution to SDP. I forgot to post it up here after that. Therefore for the benefit of people who are not surfing SDP’s excellent website, here is the article:
Overview

The week before this, Dr Chee Soon Juan was involved in a trial against the two most powerful men in Singapore being the father and son team of Prime Minister and Minister Mentor. This clash had been recorded on the Court’s audio recording and available for all to hear.

The much awaited clash produced collateral damage in the form of Justice Belinda Ang’s citation of Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin for contempt of Court. It inevitably resulted in jail sentences for the pair – 12 days for Dr. Chee and 10 days for Siok Chin.

After sending off Dr. Chee and Siok Chin on the afternoon of 4th June 2008, I had thought that the saga had ended. However, on 7th June 2008 Saturday morning, I was met with three articles touching on Dr. Chee. These were from Chua Lee Hoong of the Straits Times and Nazry Bahrawi and Derrick A. Paulo of Today.

In short, the articles were as follows:

1. Chua Lee Hoong attempts to take a swipe at Dr. Chee lamenting on his supposed squandered potential.

2. Nazry Bahrawi questions Dr. Chee’s game plan.

3. Derrick A Paulo confesses to having less than independent thought in that remarks by a colleague shapes his opinion of Dr. Chee. Interestingly, his views are not shaped by what he perceives through his senses and processed by independent sentient thought.

The common thread throughout the three articles are that they sought to portray a stance of neutrality and concern but in the same breath seek to insidiously poison the readers’ minds as to who Dr. Chee is and what he stands for.
I have penned down my responses to the same on the following articles.

If it is any significance, it should be noted that these articles are published whilst Dr. Chee is being held in incarceration for 12 days for pursuing a certain line of cross-examination of MM and PM in Court.

Derrick A Paulo’s article in Weekend Today 7-8th June 2008

It is amazing how sometimes things in Singapore play themselves out.

I met Derrick A Paulo during my campaign in the last Election in GE2006. I somehow formed the opinion that Derrick was a reporter who was sympathetic to the opposition cause.

My impressions of Derrick are somewhat changed by his latest article. In that article I see Derrick performing the function of a columnist. His writing was that of a commentary. He was giving his personal opinion on the subject to be discussed.

Rightly so that his designation has changed to that of an Assistant Editor and not just a mere journalist or reporter I had known him to be. His current position allows him to comment on matters and he has chosen in a timely fashion to comment and give his opinion of Chee Soon Juan.

Firstly, I would like to state that it is strange that Derrick is writing about how his ideas are being shaped by those around him.

Naturally this topic does not stray into what was exchanged in Court between the Lees and the Chees. Interestingly though it was the persistence of the Chees in pursuing a certain line of questioning that brought them into contempt of Court.

Why does the press not choose to discuss this tumultuous exchange in open Court that resulted in the jail sentences for Chee Siok Chin and Chee Soon Juan?

Is it simply because the audio recording of the exchange is not freely available? Had the audio recording been made freely available, I would surmise that the focus would have been on the discourse between the Lees and Chees instead of it being glossed over and not given the due attention which it deserves.

Derrick digs up the past on Chee Soon Juan’s debate with George Yeo on health care costs and subsidies. If that is supposed to be of any weight, is it not true now that Singapore’s health care costs are skyrocketing through the roof? Singaporeans have to judge which the greater sin is.

A typographical error? Or the brazen collective inability of a bunch of ministers to solve a problem highlighted by a political opponent more than a decade and a half earlier?

Which is a bigger sin? A few dollars in postage costs, or millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money?

The oft quoted excuse that a politician is no longer relevant because of the lack of support he is obtaining at a certain time is often used by those in power in an attempt to dissuade those from following the footsteps of that politician.

One need no further reminder that sham elections by Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party when he was in power had returned a vote of no less than 99% to the dictator.

Derrick betrays his pro-establishment double standards mindset that foreign connections have to be abandoned in the face of a need to win local support.

May I then ask why do our leaders keep on making overseas trips to meet foreign leaders especially those of dubious legitimacy and standing, ever so often?

Singapore is a city state which cannot live in isolation. Singapore may be an island but no Singaporean should be an island.
The government has exhorted our people over the years to work overseas and build an external economy. We were asked to position ourselves as global citizens. Our Government is a “foreigner lover” through and through in that it absorbs foreigners into civil service, welcomes foreigners into Singapore with more than open arms, and it is ever willing to cheapen the Singapore Citizenship by offering it to people whom have never made an iota of contribution to the Republic.

It is strange that when the establishment attempts to take a swipe at Dr. Chee, it forgets all that it has done. Like the thief who covers his ears as he steals the bell, it does not mean that if you do not hear it (or should I say choose not to hear it), the bell did not ring.

To give due credit to Derrick, I can say that Derrick has been reading on Dr. Chee’s civil disobedience principles and trying to make sense out of them and Derrick tries his best to distinguish Singapore from the countries where civil disobedience has succeeded in bringing about change.

Whilst it is true that Dr Chee’s civil disobedience principles are partly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and to a certain extent Nelson Mandela and it is also true that Singapore needs Singaporeans to change things.

It is a different ball game when intelligent and educated people in a position like Derrick choose to please the establishment by discouraging an entirely peaceful but assertive manner of placing pressure on the Government and encouraging avenues where it has been proven to be ineffective in bringing about change, it is no wonder that change is itself impeded. What have Low Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong achieved after more than 17 and 24 years respectively in parliament? A mere illusion of hope? Or a balm to soothe the wounded pride of the opposition?

In the article, I further sense a tinge of concern, persuasion and almost pleading for Chee Soon Juan to abandon his current course.

In as much as I try not to read too much into the workings of Derrick’s mind but judging from the looks of the article which I have dissected, it is not difficult to position where his loyalty lies and from where the plea for Chee Soon Juan to cease his campaign originated from.

Chua Lee Hoong – The Squandered Potential of Chee Soon Juan: Thinking Aloud (ST 7th June 2008)

Chua Lee Hoong begins her article citing the entry of Dr. Chee into politics in 1992 then goes in depth into why she thinks Chee Soon Juan has squandered his potential.

Ms Chua also attempts to play psychologists in branding the subject of discussion i.e. Dr. Chee as someone with a personality disorder.

She even does further into issues between God and Man and between God-fearing men.

My attention is drawn to the fact that Chua Lee Hoong was invited twice to attend a forum on Press Freedom wherein she would have met Dr. Chee in person to express such views. I understand that Ms Chua has declined to attend twice citing various reasons.

Ms Chua not only knows that Dr. Chee is in prison at this moment. Incidentally, it is also during this period that she chooses to think aloud on matters outside her knowledge, expertise and training.

Nazry Bahrawi – What is Chee Soon Juan’s game plan? (Weekend Today 7-8th June 2008)

Before his article was published, Nazry had emailed me near noon of 4th June 2008 and called me to draw my attention to the mail.

Thereafter, Nazry SMSed me twice, trying to get me to answer the mail. It turned out that I had no time to address the email as I was busy with Gopalan Nair’s matter myself.

I only saw the email shortly before Nazry’s article came out on 7th June 2008.

From the way Nazry’s questions were phrased, it betrays that he had already formed an idea of how he wanted to pitch his article even before he had obtained his interviews.

In any event, Nazry’s choice of quotes and interviews were obviously attempts to put Dr. Chee in bad light. Nazry cited the following:-

1. Non-graduate MP Charles Chong’s attempt to pay psychologist by assessing Dr. Chee as a “complex character” and referring to the below and his expression of magnanimity and largess to have compassion for those who fall short of their own dreams and appear to be challenged in more than one way.

2. During the assessment of damages hearing, Lee Kuan Yew had quoted expert opinion from his experts commenting in vacuo that Dr. Chee was a megalomaniac, as if that carried any probity according to rules of evidence.

3. Minister Mentor LKY agreeing with SPP’s Chiam See Tong on Dr. Chee Soon Juan being a megalomaniac.

4. An unnamed woman whom we do not even know actually exists using the words “backstreet brawler … doubt he is serious about being the opposition … ”

5. Sinapan Samydorai, Think Centre, Dr. Terence Chong, Institute of SEA Studies, NMP Siew Kum Hong, Assoc Prof. Eugene Tan SMU, Dr. Gillian Koh, IPS further lend their weight to the article that Dr. Chee Soon Juan would not get anywhere politically.

Nazry’s article then cites the comments that the PAP would actually attempt to change tack towards Chee Soon Juan, by ignoring Dr. Chee and ceasing further defamation suits against him.

This is not the first time the press paves the way for PAP policy retreats.

If it is of any significance, it pays to note that such talk only emanated from the PAP camp just days after the scathing exchange between the Lees and the Chees in court.

Perhaps, the first ever of such face to face engagements between the Lees and the Chees are so much more than what the PAP and its administration could bear, such that the longstanding use of lawsuits have become an unattractive option.

Conclusion

In short, we have a political editor trying to play psychologist, an assistant editor without an independent opinion, and a journalist who had an opinion of how the article should read even before he started his interviews.

Faced with such glaring facts, it is no wonder the press in Singapore is being ranked 154th in the world.

Another thing

People operating under anxiety focus too much on Chee Soon Juan’s political manoeuvres, which they incidentally opine will not bear fruit, and forget that Dr. Chee is a fully qualified psychologist even by the extremely stringent standards in the United States of America.

If there is anything to learn from what these characters like Lee Kuan Yew, Charles Chong, Chiam See Tong, Chua Lee Hoong attempt to play masak-masak Singapore-standard psychologist, one need only to be reminded that imitation is actually the sincerest form of flattery.

Chia Ti Lik, Ex-candidate in the past GE in 2006, Assistant Editor to SG Politics website, Lawyer and civil activist, law-abiding and goody two-shoes most of the time, a rebel and revolutionary deep within, a thinker and critic at times, and recently an activist very much prone to bouts of enthusiasm for civil disobedience.
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June 29, 2008 - Posted by | Politics

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