Human rights lawyer M Ravi, who is defending blogger Roy Ngerng against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation, plans to appeal for the courts to set aside the scheduled summary judgement, and instead sort out whether the Prime Minister and his press secretary, Ms Chang Li-Lin, are in breach of the Ministerial Code.
Ms Chang has earlier issued a media statement, apparently acting on behalf of PM Lee, claiming that Mr Ngerng had declined to be cross examined.
A flurry of media statements ensued from both Mr Ravi and the Prime Minister’s Office, with Mr Ravi questioning if Ms Chang was representing PM Lee as the Prime Minister of Singapore – his public service role – or as a private citizen, which had been the basis of the defamation suit.
“Incidentally, as this is purportedly a private law suit brought by the Prime Minister in his personal capacity, can you explain why you as a Civil Servant holding the official title of Press Secretary to the Prime Minister would be issuing press releases on behalf of a private litigant?” queried Mr Ravi. “I ask this in all earnestness in order to understand whether you intend me to understand that the real Plaintiff is the Prime Minister in his capacity as Prime Minister.”
Ms Chang has responded that “Mr Ngerng falsely alleged that “the plaintiff, the Prime Minister of Singapore… is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the CPF”. It is therefore entirely proper for me to deal with this matter as the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary.”
“Even my trainee lawyer could understand that the PM’s press secretary was in breach of Section 4.3 of the Ministerial Code and the PM is in breach of the same section being subject to the same guidelines of the Public Service Commission,” wrote M Ravi in a statement to media.
“A declaration will be sought in the High Court subsequently to determine the ambit of the said Section 4.3 and if both the PM and his Press Secretary are in breach of this code the PSC should investigate this matter and dismiss both of them.”
Statement in full from L F Violet Netto, Mr Ravi’s firm.
Dear members of the media,
I refer to the above application captioned under reference to set aside the summary judgment issued against my client Roy Ngerng. As the public is aware, the Prime Minister’s press secretary had been embroiled in the saga relating to whether the PM is sueing Roy in his capacity as PM or in his private capacity. Even my trainee lawyer could understand that the PM’s press secretary was in breach of 4.3 of the Ministerial Code and the PM is in breach of the same section being subject to the same guidelines of the Public Service Commission.
A declaration will be sought in the High Court subsequently to determine the ambit of the said Section 4.3 and if both the PM and his Press Secretary are in breach of this code the PSC should investigate this matter and dismiss both of them. Should the PSC not exercise the discretion vested in it to investigate this matter, we will petition the President of Singapore, Mr Tony Tan to exercise his powers under Art 100 of the Singapore Constitution to convene the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore Tribunal to determine this question.
Be that as it may, the self explanatory contents of the matter is evident in the material attached in the appendix to the summons. We will also take this matter up to international tribunals in regards to the suppression of freedom of speech and failure to adhere to a Transparency index.
Edit: Section 44 of the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants changed to 4.3 of the Ministerial Code.