People’s Voice Party chief and lawyer Lim Tean was previously informed that he could reschedule the compulsory interview to another date “if he had valid reasons to do so”, said the Singapore Police Force in a second statement on Friday (2 October).
Attaching a letter response drafted by Mr Lim’s defence counsel Ravi Madasamy on his behalf dated 27 September, the police said in a Facebook post that Mr Lim allegedly refused to attend any interview.
“Given this, the Police had no choice but to arrest him to carry on with the investigations,” said the police today.
Mr Lim was arrested by plainclothes police officers at his office this morning, 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.
In a Facebook post on the same day, 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.
It was earlier reported that the police did not respond to the lawyer’s letter dated 28 September, despite Mr Ravi asking for a follow-up from the CAD.
The follow-up was sought for the purpose of advising Mr Lim on the police request to attend an interview at the Cantonment Police Complex.
Noting that Mr Lim requested him to make the statement on his behalf, Mr Ravi said today 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.
Last month, Mr Ravi said—in his letter to the CAD on 28 September detailing Mr Lim trial dates and court schedule—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 earlier letter to the CAD on 27 September.
However, according to Mr Ravi, the police merely replied that they would take the necessary steps required. They also did not directly address the possibility of contempt of court raised by Mr Ravi in his letters.
In a lengthy Facebook post on 3 October on the matter, Mr Ravi also noted that he had left his mobile number for the Investigation Office (IO) Desmond Teo to contact him “as the CAD was exercising its powers unlawfully” as the lawyer had mentioned in his 27 September letters to the police, which the police made public with redactions.
Additionally, in the video of Mr Lim being arrested, Mr Lim can be heard telling the police, “We are on the eve of a trial, you are disturbing our work”, asking the officers why they could not arrest him after the trial instead.
The officer told Mr Lim that he could make a complaint or allegation against them later, saying, “but right now, we are bringing you back”.
Police reject Lim Tean’s “politically motivated” arrest claim
The police, in its first statement on Friday, 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.
Bail offered to Lim Tean; Leong Sze Hian as bailor
The police in a statement on Friday 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.
Mr Ravi, in an update on his Facebook post from the same morning, said that an investigation officer from CAD informed him that bail has been offered to Mr Lim. Mr Lim be released shortly upon processing of the bail, according to the officer.
Mr Leong acted as Mr Lim’s bailor.