The former tenured law professor of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Tey Tsun Hang – in conjunction with the court action against NUS – has taken court action against the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
Tey, a Malaysian, 43, asserts and produces evidence in a court document that the cancellation of his re-entry permit renewal before he was charged in court, and subsequent revocation of his permanent resident (PR) status, by the Singapore Immigration was a breach of natural justice, an infringement of fundamental right to a fair hearing and a violation of presumption of innocence, and was made arbitrarily and unreasonably.
The court documents revealed that Tey had been a PR of Singapore since January 1998, some half of a year after starting his employment in Singapore in June 1997. Until 2012, he held a 10-year re-entry permit.
Re-entry permit renewal was cancelled before charging – without reason
A few days before Tey was charged at the Subordinate Courts, his re-entry permit renewal was cancelled, together with his daughter’s.
Without a re-entry permit into Singapore, an individual would lose his PR status once he steps out of the country.
Tey, who has lost his Singapore PR status notwithstanding being acquitted of all criminal charges, seeks to have it reinstated.
Wrongful Conviction on 28 May 2013 & Summary Dismissal by NUS
Tey was initially convicted of corruption on 28 May 2013 by the trial judge, then Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye (now a Supreme Court judge, appointed 1 October 2013). On 28 May 2013, Tey was also summarily dismissed by the NUS.
On 3 June 2013, he was sentenced to a jail term of five months and a fine of about S$514.
In February 2014, the conviction was overturned by another Supreme Court judge, Woo Bih Li, as wrong and wrongful.
Not Allowed to Apply for a New Passport Before Its Expiry – by Tan Siong Thye JC
On 3 June 2013 – the day of sentencing – the Chief District Judge, due to the objection of the Prosecution, ordered that Tey was not allowed to apply for a new passport as a condition of bail pending appeal.
Tey’s passport was due to expire in December 2013. With the imposed condition, Tey was placed in a serious quandary. If he waited for his appeal while on bail, he would be travelling out of Singapore with an expired passport, incurring serious criminal liability and a possible deprivation of a new passport from Malaysia.
Tey had no choice but to commence serving the imprisonment term on 26 June 2013 pending appeal, so that he had the certainty of being able to travel out of Singapore before his passport expiry.
Fair hearing & Justice must be seen to be done
The High Court overturned the criminal conviction on 28 February 2014. Tey asks that justice must be seen to be done – he asks that the wrongly revocated PR be reinstated to him.
Tey asks that the Singapore Supreme Court must not become neglectful, or be seen to be neglectful, of the proper process of the legal mind. He says: “The court must not encourage, nor should it endorse, such bureaucratic and Kafkaesque tactics to force a permanent resident out’.
He further states in the court documents that he will adduce further evidence to show that threats were made against him, during the interrogation process at the Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau between April and May 2012, indicating political interference.
He discloses that he was repeatedly disallowed from going into and adducing the evidence of political interference, and was denied a critical witness from the Internal Security Department by the trial judge, Supreme Court judge Tan Siong Thye, during the trial.
The court documents submitted by Tey includes correspondences between Tey, the Attorney-General of Singapore and NUS in early July 2012, about his academic writings which are criticial of the Singapore’s Judiciary and its legal system as well as the investigations carried out against him.
Tey is represented by human rights lawyer, M Ravi.