People’s Voice Party chief and lawyer Lim Tean was arrested by plainclothes police officers at his office on Friday morning (2 October), just a week before the hearing of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s defamation suit against his client.
Mr Lim’s client is veteran blogger Leong Sze Hian.
Human rights lawyer Ravi Madasamy, better known as M Ravi, said that he will be representing Mr Lim as defence counsel in light of the arrest.
In a Facebook post today, Mr Ravi said that three officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) “just barged into the office” at the People’s Park Centre and arrested his client while Mr Lim was in the midst of his preparation for Mr Leong’s case.
Mr Leong’s case is to be heard in open court starting Tuesday next week from 6 to 10 October.
Noting that Mr Lim requested him to make the statement on his behalf, Mr Ravi said that his client had “protested when they placed the handcuff on him” and that he believes “his arrest is politically motivated”.
“In fact the subject matter in relation to the investigation is before the civil court and I have written to the police to that effect to respect the due process. Therefore this arrest is unlawful,” said Mr Ravi.
The police in a statement today said that Mr Lim’s arrest was made based on alleged criminal breach of trust under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
“In respect of the CBT offence, a Police report was lodged by the counsel of Mr Lim Tean’s former client (for whom Mr Lim Tean had acted in a motor injury suit). The former client alleged that Mr Lim Tean had misappropriated a sum of money awarded to him as damages by the court,” said the police.
Police added that Mr Lim is also being investigated for alleged stalking under Section 7(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act.
The allegation arose from a former employee of Mr Lim, who lodged a police report in relation to the matter.
According to the police, she alleged that she was harassed by him when she was working at his law firm.
The employee also referred the police to text messages allegedly exchanged between her and Mr Lim.
It has been communicated to the police that the subject matter in relation to the alleged CBT is currently heard in the courts — therefore, Mr Lim is not able to give a statement regarding the matter at this point.
Noting that he reserves Mr Lim’s right to make the necessary applications in court, Mr Ravi said — in a letter to CAD on 28 September — that compelling his client to make a statement regarding the matter would violate the due process of the administration of justice.
“Since the subject matter of the monies is before the State Court, we are of the respectful view that the due process should take its course and respect to the administration of justice must be adhered to by all parties including the police.
“And any steps on your part to compel our client to give a statement would go against the due administration of justice and we reserve our client’s right to take the necessary applications in court,” Mr Ravi wrote, referencing Mr Lim’s letter to the CAD on 27 September.
While Mr Ravi sought a follow-up from the CAD to be able to advise Mr Lim on the police request to attend an interview at the Cantonment Police Complex, the police reportedly did not respond to the lawyer’s letter.
The police today however said that it had contacted Mr Lim and issued him with a written notice on 23 September to attend a compulsory interview on 28 September at the Police Cantonment Complex to “assist with investigations” into the two alleged offences.
“He was also told that if he wanted, he can reschedule the interview to another date. However, Mr Lim Tean replied through his counsel on 27 September 2020 that he had no intention of turning up for any Police interview,” said the police.
The police stressed that it has “a responsibility to investigate reports which are made, if prima facie they disclose a basis for further investigations”.
“Persons called for Police interviews must comply. As Mr Lim Tean did not cooperate with the notice to attend an interview with Police, and had stated clearly that he had no intent to comply, the Police had no choice but to arrest Mr Lim Tean in order to conduct the investigations,” according to the police.
The police also rejected Mr Lim’s claim that the investigations are politically motivated.
“Mr Lim Tean’s alleged victims had filed Police reports alleging serious offences by him against them, and the Police have a duty to investigate the allegations,” said the police.