As expected, the high court today dismissed Dr. Chee Soon Juan’s appeal against a lower court conviction of attempting to leave Singapore as an undischarged bankrupt.
Judge Choo Han Teck upheld the fine of four thousand dollars or, in lieu, three weeks imprisonment imposed by a district judge on 26 February, 2007. As a result of the unsuccessful appeal, the Singapore Democratic Party Secretary-General has begun his prison term at the Queenstown Remand Prison.
On 1st April, 2006, Dr. Chee was stopped at the airport immigration check point and his passport confiscated while trying to leave for the World Movement for Democracy conference in Turkey.
Dr. Chee’s position during the lower court trial was that there was no clear directive from the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO) to prevent him from leaving the country. The IPTO created confusion when it assigned at least six officers to handle Dr. Chee’s case.
This morning’s appeal saw both the defence and the prosecution taking more than an hour to put across their arguments. Dr. Chee’s counsel, Mr. Alfred Dodwell told the court that there was so much inconsistency in the way IPTO handled the case when all Dr. Chee wanted was fair treatment as an ordinary citizen, and not as a politician. Because of the uncertainty and confusion caused by IPTO, the benefit of the doubt should be given to Dr Chee.
Despite the elaborate argument put forth by the defence and prosecution, Judge Choo, took just a few seconds to dismiss the appeal and uphold the sentence, not to the surprise of everyone present.
Singapore Democratic Party
Related post: One country, two systems