“Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, Lee Hsien Loong, Tony Tan and the others, corruptly used their positions as the country’s leaders to obtain confidential information and had it leaked to the state media (which they also control) resulting in direct financial gain from aggravated damages.”
Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam has accused Lee Hsien Loong and other PAP cadres of corruption for their alleged role in bankrupting his father, the late prominent opposition politician JB Jeyaretnam.
This comes after a blog post by former SPH news editor Bertha Henson.
Ms Henson claimed back in 1997, when she was a reporter with The New Paper and PN Balji serving as the paper’s editor, TNP was offered a “strange offer of a scoop” from editor-in-chief at that time Cheong Yip Seng.
That offer was to obtain police reports that Mr JB Jeyaretnam had filed against 11 members of the PAP.
Said Ms Henson:
“Unless Mr Jeyaretnam handed them over to the media himself, there was no way journalists could have obtained them from other sources. The police do not release police reports on request.”
Ms Henson said that TNP proceeded to print articles based on the contents of the police reports, which then led to the downfall of Mr JB Jeyaretnam and his Workers’ Party comrade Tang Liang Hong.
“To cut a long story short, we did not get into trouble, but Mr Tang and JBJ et al did. They didn’t win the election but did well enough to earn a non-constituency MP seat which JBJ took. But more importantly, JBJ was smacked with a massive law suit, 11 in all. That was when it began to dawn on us that we had been made use of to disseminate a supposed libel to an even wider audience, which could mean higher damages if the PAP side won.”
Commenting on Ms Henson’s revelation, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam said:
“Bertha’s confession makes clear the role played by P N Balji, then the Editor of The New Paper (part of the SPH group to which the Government has the right to appoint and dismiss the editors and senior management or to force a sale to individuals connected to the Government) in obtaining the police reports against the 11 ministers and then publishing them in The New Paper. My father had not himself publicised the substance of the police reports beyond their mere existence. The famous, “I have just been handed” comment at the end of the rally. Neither had my father nor his side leaked the details as previously thought. If Bertha is not lying then the Police Force and the Press are complicit in aggravating the damages.”
He added that Ms Henson’s “confession” shows that “Singaporeans that we have no Rule of Law and that we cannot rely on the administration of justice”.
Going back to 1997, what happened was the day before polling day, the WP held a rally in which Mr JB Jeyaretnam announced that police reports had been filed against 11 members of the PAP>
He said during the rally, without going into further detail:
“Mr Tang Liang Hong has just placed before me two reports he has made to the police against, you know, Mr Goh Chok Tong and his team”.
A lawsuit was launched by the implicated PAP members against Mr JB Jeyaretnam, in which they claimed that his announcement of the police reports amounted to defamation by innuendo.
The publication of the contents of the police reports by the press is believed to have helped increase the damages sought against Mr JB Jeyaretnam, resulting in his bankruptcy.
This is Kenneth Jeyaretenam’s post in full:
I have been shocked to read Bertha Henson’s brave confession with regard to collusion and corruption in the defamation suit brought by then PM Goh Chok Tong against my late father J B Jeyaretnam in 1997. Goh Chok Tong was the first of 11 claimants who filed suit. The others included Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong and Tony Tan and I therefore consider that they are also complicit.
Mr PN Balji, former editor of The New Paper owes me an explanation, an apology and compensation for the hardship that his corrupt collusion with the Government inflicted on my father and our family. Bertha Henson has also provided prima facie evidence of corruption on the part of SM Lee Kuan Yew, PM Goh, ex-President Tony Tan and PM Lee Hsien Loong.
My father was the first Opposition MP in Singapore since 1965 and Lee Kuan Yew, his family, and the PAP Government were determined to crush him. He had already lost his breakthrough seat at Anson in 1986 due to a fake conviction for a non-existent offence that the UK Privy Council later ruled “a grievous miscarriage of justice.” Due to a legal technicality my father was unable to appeal to the Privy Council against the conviction (though he was able to win reinstatement as a lawyer) and he was deprived of his seat and then kept from standing again till 1997.
At the 1997 GE he won an NCMP seat, though his team were denied a full victory due to dirty tricks and a clear breach of the Elections Act by PM Goh and DPM Lee Hsien Loong. Even the reduced voice and powers of the NCMP position did not satisfy Lee Kuan Yew’s vindictive nature and he would be satisfied with nothing less than total destruction by any means possible.
With my father able to hold the Government accountable again from inside Parliament, the PAP were determined to “fix” him through the process of financial ruin. A major factor in bankrupting him was the damages obtained by Goh Chok Tong (as the initial claimant ). Initially $20,000 these were increased on appeal to $100,000 plus $20,000 in costs for aggravated damages. The defamation was deemed to have been aggravated by the publication of the police files. However, if the Prime Minister himself published the files through the agency of his police force and his newspaper editors for which he was ultimately responsible, then there was no aggravation and he is responsible for the damages to his own reputation as a result of publication in the state press.
Bertha’s confession makes clear the role played by P N Balji, then the Editor of The New Paper (part of the SPH group to which the Government has the right to appoint and dismiss the editors and senior management or to force a sale to individuals connected to the Government) in obtaining the police reports against the 11 ministers and then publishing them in The New Paper. My father had not himself publicised the substance of the police reports beyond their mere existence. The famous, “I have just been handed” comment at the end of the rally. Neither had my father nor his side leaked the details as previously thought. If Bertha is not lying then the Police Force and the Press are complicit in aggravating the damages.
It is this dissemination of details of the police reports which allowed the claimants to claim aggravated damages and why Goh Chok Tong was able to appeal and get a considerably higher quantum awarded. This was a perversion of justice because my father’s QC, George Carman, could have used the leaking of the police reports by the SPF to state media in his defence. If my father had not been forced into bankruptcy in 2001 the other 10 claimants would have proceeded with their suits and the total awarded would have increased to at least $1.1 million plus costs.
As a result of his bankruptcy my father not only lost his seat and was prevented from standing again until he died in 2008, but he also was reduced to living in conditions of humiliating and degrading circumstances, including having to ask for permission every time he wanted to leave Singapore such as visiting family in Johor Bahru. Balji meanwhile will go on to live out his retirement in comfort. Balji also contributed in depriving the people of Singapore of a genuine opposition voice and robust democracy in parliament.
At the end of his life we felt my father might be safe from further suits if we now arranged for him to be discharged from bankruptcy. We wanted him to spend the end of his life with dignity. I contributed tens of thousands of dollars to discharging his bankruptcy and paid for an apartment and a carer because he had had to sell his last property he owned in Singapore. I remember my wife’s reaction at discovering that the shirts he wore to court in his last months, were full of holes.
The actions of the Singapore police force are also shocking. The police faxed the police reports to Balji, secretly leaking them in a partisan politically motivated action when they should have remained confidential. The substance of the report was not only confidential but politically sensitive concerning accusations against powerful public figures who could apply coercion were they made aware of the accusations against them . It is clearly sub-judice. Disclosing them without the permission of the person who made the reports, in this case Tang Liang Hong, is a breach of privacy , due process and a criminal offence.
in short, Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, Lee Hsien Loong, Tony Tan and the others, corruptly used their positions as the country’s leaders to obtain confidential information and had it leaked to the state media (which they also control) resulting in direct financial gain from aggravated damages.
This confession shows Singaporeans that we have no Rule of Law and that we cannot rely on the administration of justice.