Francis Seow swears affidavit in support of SDP
10 Feb 08
Former Singapore solicitor-general and Law Society president Mr Francis Seow filed an affidavit in support of the SDP in the lawsuit against Mr Lee Kuan Yew and son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
The Lees sued the Singapore Democrats and its executive members over an article which the party published drawing parallels between the NKF scandal and the way the PAP runs Singapore.
The High Court awarded the Lees the case without giving the SDP a fair trial despite the fact that the defendants had filed their defence and raised the fact that there were disputes in fact and law.
The judiciary will now decide how much the Lees have to be paid in damages in a hearing. Mr Seow filed an affidavit last week as a witness for the Singapore Democrats. In it, he refuted the claims made by the Lees that they are worth the amounts they claim (see below).
Earlier, the SDP and two other defendants Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan, filed their Affidavit Evidence in Chief, stating that the reputations of the Lees have inflated by the system they control.
Mr Seow has stated that he stands ready to be cross-examined at the hearing.
Affidavit of Mr Francis Seow
I, Francis T Seow, do hereby make oath and say as follows:
1. I am a witness for the defendants in this suit.
2. I was the former Solicitor-General of Singapore and the former President of
the Law Society of Singapore.
3. As the former Solicitor-General, I have some knowledge of how the Government works under the Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). From my interactions with him, there is no doubt that LKY is bent on the total control of the Singaporean society.
4. The use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) to quarantine and rehabilitate his political opponents, the wholesale subjugation of the print and broadcast media, the prohibition of public protests, and ironically the use of defamation laws have all had one effect: To silence opposing views in Singapore.
5. I was one of his victims. I was arrested and detained without trial under the ISA for opposing LKY's ways and his autocratic policies. My experience under detention is recounted in my book To Catch A Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison published by the prestigious Yale University Southeast Asia Studies. Pertinently, no one, not even the ever-litigious Lee Kuan Yew, has challenged the accuracy of what I had related in my book.
6. During my imprisonment I was told during my interrogators that they were going to neutralize me and that I should give up my idea of going into politics:
"So, you think, you can take on and bully the second-generation leaders? Well, our job is to make sure that you do not succeed. We are here to neutralize you. You know, to neutralize you! For your infomatioon, Lee Kuan Yew is running for another term. And you will be locked up here for at least two years, if not more. So, where will you be? You can give up all your ideas of going into politics." (Francis T Seow, To Catch A Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison published, Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1994).
7. If the State can treat the country's former solicitor-general in such a contemptible manner, how much more can it intimidate the ordinary citizen – such is the persecution of dissenters and opponents of the PAP Government?
8. When his political opponents and dissidents are persecuted few would dare join the ranks of the opposition, much less stand for elections. Given such an arrangement it is no wonder that the PAP is repeatedly returned to power.
9. When such an undemocratic practice is in place, how does the plaintiff claim that he is the duly elected leader of Singapore? And yet, Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) pretends that he operates in a democracy and claims that his position in the Government is a mandate given by Singaporeans. He has inherited the system put in place by his father.
10. The effulgence with which the media speaks of the plaintiff is not without contrivance. Journalists and editors who have been critical of LKY and the system he devised have been detained without trial, and newspapers that have demonstrated an independent streak have been closed.
11. Legislation has been passed to prohibit news organizations without Government control from being established. The Singapore Press Holdings which publishers all of Singapore's newspapers is chaired by Tony Tan, LKY's protégé and former deputy prime minister. Dr Tan's predecessor is Lim Kim San, a former cabinet minister and loyal friend of LKY.
12. With the media in the hands of LKY and those close to him, it is not possible for a balanced view of LHL to emerge.
13. There is no getting away from the fact that the political system that the PAP has devised in Singapore is not a democratic one. In fact the PAP Government thrives on fear. LKY himself boasted that: "If nobody is afraid of me, I'm meaningless." (Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: The Man and His Ideas, 1998).
14. Only those operating within the PAP system will agree that the system is not designed to inflate the plaintiff's reputation and to curtail opposing views.
15. Given such a climate of fear and intimidation, there can be only be praise of the plaintiff. His critics, especially the prominent ones, have all been silenced. Given such a scenario, LHL's reputation is based on his own opinion and those of his minions. This is no way to assess a plaintiff's reputation especially in a court of law.
16. To obtain a reliable and valid assessment, a broader spectrum of views and opinions must be sought especially from persons/groups who are not within the control of the Singapore Government.
Sworn by me,
Francis T Seow
Before William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
On January 30, 2008
Filed on this 5th day of February 2008