Lawyer and People’s Voice Party chief Lim Tean is set to begin contempt of court proceedings against the director of the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and police officers who were involved in his alleged unlawful arrest prior to the commencement of his client veteran blogger Leong Sze Hian’s defamation trial.
Mr Lim’s defence counsel Ravi Madasamy, known as M Ravi, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (13 October) that he has notified the Attorney-General of Mr Lim’s intention to commence the said proceedings against CAD director David Chew, Investigation Officer Desmond Toh “and the three officers who unlawfully arrested” his client on 2 October.
The rationale behind intending to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the above individuals, said Mr Ravi, is that the subject matter of the investigation is related to an ongoing civil case in the State Courts.
The civil case in question, he said, will be further heard in open court on 27 October.
Mr Ravi also said that he will be bringing “other actions” against Joseph Chen, the opposing lawyer in the civil case.
This will include filing complaints to the Law Society “on various matters relating to the conduct of Mr Joseph Chen as provided by the statutory mechanism under the Legal Profession Act”, he said.
Mr Ravi also said that he intends to begin judicial review proceedings against the CAD should he fail to hear from the department “within the next 48 hours as to whether they will hold their investigation”, pending Mr Lim’s judicial review action against CAD in relation to “the whole investigative process being irreversibly tainted” as a result of the alleged “unlawful conduct” of the department and the relevant officers.
“More details to follow when I commence the aforesaid actions shortly as Lim Tean’s counsel,” said the lawyer, adding that Mr Lim has expressed his intention to make the letters to make the letters to the A-G and the CAD to be made public.
Shortly after Mr Lim’s arrest on 2 October, Mr Ravi said that three officers from the 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.
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 the same day 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.
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 however in a later statement 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.
Correction: A previous version of this article named Tan Boon Gin as the director of CAD. However, this has been amended to David Chew as stated in Mr Ravi’s letter. We apologise for the error.