SINGAPORE: Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing has written to Huffington Post to educate them about Chee Soon Juan. This comes after the newspaper publishes the articles “Without Freedom There is No Free Trade” and “Free the Singapore Media and Let the People Go”, by opposition politician Chee Soon Juan late last year.
The letter is reproduced below:
Your website has given Dr Chee Soon Juan considerable but undeserved attention and space. You perhaps believe that he is a weighty political figure in Singapore. He is nothing of the kind.
Dr Chee has stood for elections thrice – and lost badly all three times, once receiving just 20 per cent of the vote.
The party he now leads, the Singapore Democratic Party, was once the leading opposition party in the country. But that was when it was led by Mr Chiam See Tong, a man everyone in Singapore, political friend and foe alike, regards as an honourable man.
Indeed, it was Mr Chiam who brought Dr Chee into the SDP in 1992. He mentored the younger man and promoted him. Dr Chee then proceeded to betray Mr Chiam, isolate him and force him out of the SDP, a party that he had founded in 1980 and had nurtured over 14 years. Since then the SDP hasn’t won a single seat in Parliament, though Mr Chiam himself went on to win elections repeatedly.
In 1993, Dr Chee was dismissed from the National University of Singapore for misappropriating research funds and for other serious misconduct, including surreptitiously recording conversations with university staff.
He has been sued for defamation not only by ruling party politicians, a fact that he likes to trumpet in the foreign media, but also by the doyen of the opposition in Singapore, Mr Chiam, a fact that he doesn’t mention because it is embarrassing.
And in 1996, Dr Chee and three of his associates were convicted of perjury by Parliament tor submitting false statements to a Special Parliamentary Committee. This is the equivalent of Congress convicting someone of perjury, a most serious offence.
It is because of these and other failings that Dr Chee is a political failure – not because he was persecuted, as he likes to pretend. His party is now one of the weakest political parties in Singapore principally because voters do not regard its leader as an honourable man.
Dr Chee was disqualified from contesting the last two General Elections because he was declared a bankrupt in 2006 for failing to pay damages for libel to former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2012 after the former Prime Ministers agreed to accept a reduced sum in damages. Since then Dr Chee has been campaigning to redeem himself in the public eye in preparation for the next General Election.
As he has done in the past, he has looked to the foreign media for redemption, chiefly because foreign journalists don’t know him as well as Singaporeans and he believes he can beguile them into believing he is the Aung San Suu Kyi of Singapore politics. Dr Chee, however, claims he is forced to publish in the foreign media because he has been silenced in the Singapore media.
But this is false. There are several socio-political websites in Singapore, some with as wide a reach among Singaporeans as the Huffington Post has among Americans. They have run several articles by Dr Chee. The local press also has carried several of Dr Chee’s letters.
Dr Chee’s problem is not that he has not been heard by Singaporeans. His problem is that they have.
Chan Chun Sing
Minister for Social and Family Development, Singapore