One of Singapore's few opposition figures was declared bankrupt yesterday after he failed to pay damages to the city's founding father Lee Kuan Yew (
"I have just been adjudicated a bankrupt ... The judge has adjudicated, so I'm legally a bankrupt right now," said Chee Soon Juan(徐順全), secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, to reporters after emerging from a closed-door session at the High Court.
Chee earlier said he had not paid S$500,000 Singapore dollars (US$307,000) in damages to Goh Chok Tong (吳作棟) and Lee Kuan Yew, as ordered by the High Court.
"I certainly don't have 500,000 dollars," he said, adding it was unlikely that he would appeal the judgement.
Lawyers for Goh and Lee had sent separate letters to Chee on Feb. 28 last year demanding payment of the money, plus legal costs and expenses.
By law, bankrupt persons cannot run for public office.
But even if the ruling had not been handed down, Chee said he would still not be eligible to run in general elections widely expected this year because of previous fines incurred in his long-running battle with the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).
Chee questioned the timing of the High Court ruling against him, noting it came ahead of widely anticipated elections.
"I guess it's their usual ploy that before the elections ... they tend to make sure that the opposition is as hampered as it can be," he said.
He vowed to continue fighting for democratic rights.
"Whether I'm made a bankrupt or not, I will continue to do what I intend to do, that is, to fight for democracy in Singapore," Chee said.
"Elections are just one of the ways of doing political work in Singapore. In the past two, three years, I haven't just spent my time thinking about the elections," he said.
"I try to organize people, write, speak as much as possible within the international community," he said.
The High Court in January last year found Chee liable for damages as a result of remarks made about Goh and Lee during the election campaign in October 2001.
The cases involved accusations by Chee, which he later retracted, that the former prime ministers had lent about US$10 billion to then-Indonesian president Suharto at the height of the East Asian financial crisis in 1998.
Lee, Goh and other members of the PAP, which has ruled over Singapore since its independence in 1965, have a long history of taking crippling legal action against their political opponents and media critics.
Human rights groups have criticized the practice but the city-state's rulers argue they need to take legal action to protect their reputations.
Lee led Singapore to independence and ruled until 1990.
He then handed power to Goh, who stood down last year for Lee's son, Lee Hsien Loong.
Goh and the elder Lee remain in the Cabinet as chief advisers of the new prime minister.
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another