Human Rights lawyer, M Ravi issues a press release to say that the statement made by Ms Chang Li-Lin, Press Secretary of the Singapore Prime Minister confirms his points through the jottings of the hearing.
On Tuesday morning, M Ravi as representing lawyer for Mr Ngerng in the defamation suit launched by Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong last year, said that the statement made by the PM Lee's press secretary to the media is an inaccurate statement, and that she has been misinformed. (read more)
He also posed the question of why is the press secretary to the Prime Minister issuing press releases on behalf of PM Lee who is filing the law suit in his personal capacity.
On the evening of the same day, Ms Chang referred to the legal notes by PM Lee’s lawyers to rebut the statement by M Ravi, saying that her statement was based on contemporaneous notes of the hearing taken by Drew & Napier.
She also states that it is entirely proper for her to deal with this matter as the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary. (read more)
Below is M Ravi's press release in its entirety,
“Is Mr. Roy Ngerng prepared to give evidence and be cross-examined?” YES.
This can now be confirmed on the basis of his instructions to his Advocates.
“Is it correct to say that I “indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.”? NO.
This was an inaccuracy in a press release issued under the name of Ms Chang Li-Lin, the Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,(“PSPM”) to which I have already drawn attention.
The Saga Continues
PSPM has now (on Tuesday January 13 2015) issued another press release to allegedly rebut my assertion of the inaccuracy in her first press release .
PSPM said that her statement was based on “contemporaneous notes of the hearing taken by Drew & Napier”- which she proceeded to reproduce in relevant part in full. The notes are best described as abbreviated jottings (“Jottings”) in the usual type of legal short-hand.
It is not suggested by PSPM that the Jottings are a complete verbatim transcript of the hearing, but they seem to me to be accurate, precise and complete as far as they go.
They DO NOT say that “Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.” Indeed the Jottings nowhere use any language such as “did not want to be cross-examined” or anything like it.
So where did PSPM get the idea that I “indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.”?
The Jottings refer to two interjections by Counsel for Mr. Lee Hsien Loong made immediately after my referring to my client giving evidence. [Square brackets explain the codes.]
“P.[Counsel for the Plaintiff] I will be xxing [cross-examining] if standing as AEIC” [if Mr. Roy Ngerng’s affidavit is to be admitted to stand as evidence in chief] and
“If D [Mr. Roy Ngerng] chooses to give AEIC [affidavit of evidence in chief] in whatever form I will be xxing”.
As an Advocate should do at that point in the forensic exchange, I moved swiftly to protect my client’s right to have the final say whether to give evidence in chief (and be cross examined). I felt this was necessary given the sudden display of fervour of my learned opponent to engage in “xxing” my client and an Advocate knows his client’s instructions are paramount..
I was not taking notes of what I was saying however my recollection is that I said, when asked, I would take instructions. The Jottings provide a fascinating clue to this when a key question is raised by me towards the end:
”MR. If my client decides to file AEIC, does he have to file app?”
It seems fair to say (if I may be permitted to say it myself) that I was at this point asking the learmed Judge whether if my client did decide to give evidence, would the Court be expecting a further application? This is precisely consistent with my previously stated position that my recollection is that I indicated at the hearing that I would be taking instructions on whether Mr Ngerng would be giving evidence. Curiously, and sadly perhaps, PSPM makes no mention of this key question in what is otherwise a very comprehensive discussion of the Jottings.
There are other points of detail in PSPM’s rebuttal with which one could disagree, but I do not wish to unduly burden PSPM with minor quibbles. The important point- and a point that bears repetition- is that I did NOT at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined. This is confirmed by the Jottings. I thank PSPM for producing them and thereby putting the record straight.