Dr Chee Soon Juan admitted to hospital, 4 Dec 2006, SDP
Singapore Democratic Party’s secretary general, Dr Chee Soon Juan was admitted to Changi General Hospital on 3 December 2006 whilst in prison.
The medical doctor at the Queenstown Remand Prison had found traces of blood in Dr Chee’s urine. He had suffered from abdominal pains and his blood pressure was also extremely low that evening.
His family was allowed to visit him on Monday morning at about 10.30am. Dr Chee informed his sister, Ms Chee Siok Chin that he had not eaten since Sunday 26 November. This was due to the fact that he would feel ill and throw up after his meals.
The doctor in charge of the prison ward of the hospital told his family that there was tenderness in Dr Chee’s abdomen, but he could not ascertain the reason for that. Dr Chee is also suffering from dehydration.
Dr Chee looked tired and had lost weight. The prison authorities said that he had lost approximately five kilograms.
Ms Chee and Mrs Chee were met at the hospital by the Superintendent of the Queenstown Remand and another senior officer who were extremely concerned that he was not eating.
During the brief visit, Dr Chee had asked if his family could buy food from the hospital canteen. The Superintendent, however, turned down the request as “cooked food”, other than that served in prison, is not allowed to be brought to prisoners. They however, allowed the family to buy him packets of bread, biscuits and beverages.
Although Dr Chee is amenable to consuming hospital food, he said that he will not eat food served to him in prison.
Ms Chee told the prison authorities that she would bring him “non-cooked” food and packet beverages and would hand it personally to Dr Chee when he goes back to Queenstown Remand. This request is being considered by the prisons.
Dr Chee also said that he will respond to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ statement that the SDP press release, dated 28 November, “contains grave falsehoods and serious allegations attacking the integrity of the Singapore Prison Service.”
Dr Chee Soon Juan is serving a five-week sentence for flouting Singapore’s stringent law of speaking in public without a permit.
Dec 6 postscript: The PAP govt has put out its own spin, through the local media no less, on the CSJ affair. Here is one such report by TODAY. The Straits Times also has a report in its edition today but I can’t find it online for now. Suffice it to say there isn’t much difference between the TODAY & Straits Times reports….
Why Chee is in hospital: Ministry of Home Affairs
Wednesday • December 6, 2006
Loh Chee Kong
He is refusing to eat. He is refusing medical treatment. He is demanding to be treated differently.
This is just a snapshot of what Dr Chee Soon Juan has been doing in prison since he opted to serve a jail term for speaking in public without a permit — rather than pay the $5,000 fine.
These details emerged after the Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) explained to Today why the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief was hospitalised 11 days into his five-week prison term on Dec 3. The Opposition party had hinted on its website that Chee had been ill-treated, singled out and even drugged — allegations that have been picked up by groups abroad.
Rebutting these claims, MHA said in a statement that Chee stopped eating prison food after five days. The SDP said the prison food made Chee nauseous and he would throw up. But MHA pointed out that his three cell mates and all other prisoners ate the same food without incident. In fact, Chee declared he would eat only home-cooked meals prepared by his wife.
Prison authorities examined the food and found no reason to believe it caused Chee’s nausea. To determine the cause of the purported nausea, the prison medical officer asked for a blood test to be conducted and for Chee to be put on an intravenous drip to safeguard his health.
But Chee refused to allow this, said MHA. On Dec 3, the prison medical officer referred Chee to Changi General Hospital.
At the hospital — another food saga erupted. Chee refused to eat the hospital meals even though they were the same as those served to other patients and had been planned by dietitians. But, a day later, Chee changed his mind and decided to eat the dinner he had selected from the hospital menu.
But he has been adamant about refusing medical treatment.
Hospital doctors also advised that Chee be put on an intravenous drip but he rejected the advice and refused to allow this, said MHA.
Chee also refused to allow doctors at Changi General Hospital to conduct a blood test to verify if the prison food was causing him nausea. MHA said doctors were exploring other avenues to address Chee’s complaint, such as a CT scan, X-ray and a psychiatric review.
MHA yesterday also dismissed suggestions that Chee had been singled out in prison, noting that Chee had “demanded to be treated differently from other inmates”. Its statement added: “He has sought for more yard time, for more visits from his family than is entitled to other prisoners … ”
“If Chee persists in not eating when he can, and refusing medical treatment based on the professional opinion of the medical doctors, he will be causing harm to himself. This situation cannot be condoned. The prison authorities will study and access all means to stop him from breaching prison regulations, and doing harm to his own health.”