My Written Submissions for Yesterday’s Hearing on the Defamation Suit Over Singaporeans’ CPF
Yesterday was my hearing for the defamation suit. Justice Lee Seiu Kin heard the case today. He has reserved judgment and will give his judgment in due course.
You can see below my written submissions, which are documents which summarises the relevant facts of the case.
There are two parts to the written submissions.
(1) The first part contains arguments to state the real intent of my article and the statements which are not defamatory.
“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that a fair reading of the Article as a whole does not give rise to the pleaded meaning. While the Article does start off controversially, it becomes clear to the reader having read the whole article that he is not accusing the Plaintiff of any criminal wrongdoing but rather, expressing his opinion that the legal retention of profits from derived from the investing of CPF monies by GIC and Temasek, by the Government is simply not fair to Singaporeans. That is the true natural and ordinary meaning of the Article taken as a whole. No reasonable reader having read the whole article would go away with the impression that the Plaintiff is stealing monies or behaving in a manner prohibited by law! The Defendant therefore humbly urges the Court to rule against the Plaintiff on the pleaded meaning and dismiss the Plaintiff’s application and action.”
“As we have stated above, the Defendant’s case is that the Article read as a whole does not convey to the reasonable reader that the Plaintiff is guilty of criminal misappropriation, as the gist of the Article is that the Government channels CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS) and invests the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enriches itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, but retaining part of the profits instead.
This puts in perspective, provides the context and is the antidote to the pictorial comparison between the Plaintiff’s relationship with GIC, MAS, Temasek and the CPF Funds with the pictorial description of the persons alleged to have misappropriated monies from the City Harvest Church. The Plaintiff does not and cannot argue that the Government is not legally allowed to retain these profits. Neither would a reasonable person reading the Article as a whole come to the conclusion that the Government is doing something legally wrong in retaining these profits, and that the Plaintiff, as head of the Government, the GIC and the spouse of the Head of Temasek Holdings is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”
“With respect, the Plaintiff’s submission on this point as set out in paragraph 85 is completely disingenuous. The reasonable reader knows that the Plaintiff is the head of the Singapore Government and the Head of GIC. The ordinary reader also knows that the Plaintiff’s wife heads Temasek Holdings. It is clear therefore that any reference to the Singapore Government would be relevant in interpreting what the pictorial representations mean and it is not open to the Plaintiff, as head of the Government to argue that the later portion of the Article is irrelevant in interpreting the Article as a whole as the Government is a separate entity from him.”
“It is the Defendant’s case therefore that unless it could be said that it is legally wrong for the Government to channel CPF monies to various entities (Temasek Holdings, GIC and MAS), invest the CPF monies and make profits from these investments and enrich itself and its reserves by not returning all profits made from the use of CPF monies to CPF account holders, the Article clearly does not leave the ordinary reader with the impression that the Plaintiff has done something wrong, much less, is guilty of criminal misappropriation.”
2) The second part contains the constitutional argument.
“辩方的意见是由于依据宪法第14章（Article 14 of the Constitution (Cap Const, 1999 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution)），在新加坡，关于申请终终止普通发诽谤的申请，除非获得国会、法律有特别约定”
“It is the Defendant’s submission that by virtue of Article 14 of the Constitution (Cap Const, 1999 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution), the common laws of defamation ceased to apply in Singapore unless Parliament, by law, specifically provides for it.”
“这是从一开始就需要对诽谤法令（(Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) ）做诠释，这并不符合言论自由的要求。诽谤法令并没有限制公民有言论和表达的自由。简单而言，法令并不是作为原告起诉被告的理由诽谤法令仅仅是提供了各种防御的存在，但是不适用于普通法和其他各种程序上的事情。”
“It is necessary at the outset to note that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not meet the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirements. The Defamation Act does not restrict the citizen’s freedom of speech and expression, simply because it does not provide that defamation is cause of action. The Defamation Act merely provides for various defences to be available which were not available at common law, and for various procedural matters.”
“我们强调诽谤法令（Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”)）从一开始就没有令人满意有关言论自由的要求，那就是‘国会可能通过法律….强制执行….限制’这是因为诽谤法令并没有任何言论自由的意图，正如原告有力的指出，它是为提供部分的修正和限定性条件作为限制言论——普通法的诽谤——假设性的已经存在。”
“We reiterate at the outset that the Defamation Act (Cap 75, 2014 Rev Ed) (“the Defamation Act”) does not satisfy the Freedom of Speech Guarantee’s requirement that “Parliament may, by law, impose… restrictions…” This is because the Defamation Act does not purport to restrict speech at all. All that it does, as the Plaintiff helpfully points out, is to provide for certain modifications and qualifications for a restriction of speech – the common law of defamation – that supposedly already exists.”
“The Plaintiff is right in not arguing that the cause of action of defamation had actually been enacted by the Defamation Act. It does not follow from the fact that Parliament enacts legislation modifying, or with the assumption of an existing body of law, that therefore Parliament enacted that existing body of law. By definition, by assuming an existing body of law (and therefore not positively providing for it), Parliament cannot simultaneously enact that existing body of law.”
I also managed to do some quick drawings on my notebook.