AGC denies consent for private prosecution of perjury by former NUS student against SMU president

AGC denies consent for private prosecution of perjury by former NUS student against SMU president

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in Singapore has denied a request by a private citizen to file a private prosecution against Professor Lily Kong, the president of Singapore Management University, for perjury in a court case involving a former student of the National University of Singapore (NUS) during Prof Kong’s term as NUS Vice-Provost in 2006.

The former NUS student, Jeanne Ten was instructed by Senior Magistrate Ng Peng Hong to seek consent from the Public Prosecutor to obtain the “fiat” and “consent” from the Public Prosecutor after she filed a “Magistrate’s Complaint” against  Prof Kong, accusing her of committing the crime of perjury, pursuant to Sections 191 and 193 of the Penal Code.

In an email reply to Jeanne on 7 March, the AGC stated that they had “carefully considered” Jeanne’s email on 5 March and decided not to grant her request for consent.

Jeanne had earlier filed an application with the High Court in 2021, “OS 226,” to determine whether or not Prof Kong and Prof Ang Siau Gek committed perjury in Suit 667, after losing a previous lawsuit with the National University of Singapore (NUS). NUS filed an application, “SUM 1613,” to strike out OS 226, which was granted in December 2021.

In OS 226, Jeanne claimed that the perjury committed by the key witnesses for NUS, especially Prof Kong and Prof Ang Siau Gek, resulted in the dismissal of Suit 667 (which commenced in 2012 and concluded in 2018, resulting in the 2018 judgment against Jeanne, as well as the “costs orders” that are now the basis of the NUS’s current bankruptcy proceedings against Jeanne, being an “unsafe” judgment), as Jeanne claims that the judgment is “tainted” with “fraud upon the Court” in the form of perjury.

Misled by Prof Lily Kong and lost her degree

In the 2012 lawsuit, Jeanne alleged that the university and several officials, including Prof Kong, who is now a Justice of the Peace and sits on the Public Service Commission, abused their power against her. This occurred after she filed a complaint against her supervisor for using her academic work to apply for funding for his own project, and led to her not receiving her degree in 2006.

Following a nine-day trial in 2017, the High Court postponed its decision and eventually dismissed her case in July of the following year.

The court dismissed all her allegations against NUS, encompassing negligence, breach of contract, misfeasance in public office, and intimidation.

The court recognized that Jeanne had completed all the academic requirements for the degree, but concluded that she had not fulfilled the university’s administrative requirements.

However, the lawsuit revealed that Jeanne had been misled by Prof Kong into believing that her supervisor was cleared of all misconduct by a Committee of Inquiry (COI).

Photo of Professor Lily Kong from Wikimedia Commons

While the COI did not find the supervisor guilty of plagiarism, it stated that he failed to systematically clarify how he would acknowledge Jeanne’s work. The COI suggested that he be censured for not fully complying with his duties as a supervisor and that appropriate measures be taken to ensure his complete understanding of the role and responsibilities of a supervisor to his student.

Through the course of the proceedings, it was revealed that Prof Kong did not inform Jeanne of the COI findings, including the censure, and she had refused to provide Jeanne with the COI report.

The ultimatum issued by Prof Kong in order for Jeanne to receive her degree—which included a condition that Jeanne must agree to drop all allegations against the supervisor without informing Jeanne of the COI’s findings—led to her decisions that ultimately resulted in her expulsion from NUS.

Police report filed on perjury in light of expert opinion

After the Appellate Division of the High Court dismissed her application for permission to appeal the Court’s decision to strike out OS 226 regarding the perjury, Jeanne filed a “Magistrate’s Complaint” against  Prof Kong, accusing her of committing the crime of perjury.

In February last year, Jeanne received an expert opinion report from a university law professor Dave Lewis regarding his view on  Prof Kong’s conduct in Court.

Prof Lewis has acted as an independent consultant on whistleblowing law and practice in both the public and private sectors in the UK and for several international institutions, including the OECD, Council of Europe, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UDODC).

Having examined and considered copies of the documents, such as  Prof Kong’s Affidavit of the Evidence-in-Chief and transcripts of her testimony in court presented to him, Prof Lewis opined that there lie factual contradictions between what Prof Kong told the Supreme Court under oath in 2017, versus what Prof Kong told her boss in an email in 2006 and indicate that the High Court may have been repeatedly and seriously misled in the suit, which was dismissed in 2018.

“In turn, this may have led to a miscarriage of justice, and I believe that this possibility ought to be investigated by the Supreme Court of Singapore,” wrote Prof Lewis.

After receiving the expert opinion, Jeanne immediately filed a police report on Prof Kong’s and Prof Ang’s alleged perjury in Court.

After months of investigations, an email reply from the Singapore Police Force in July last year stated: “… After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of your report, and in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, including a review of relevant judgments in legal suits you were a party to, and the Notes of Evidence of the trial, the Police will take no further action against the persons named in your report… All investigations and inquiries into the matter would cease, and the case would be closed.”

Another application, RA351, was filed to appeal against the Court’s decision in SUM 1613, which was the Court’s refusal to hear Jeanne’s application in OS 226. While Justice Valerie Thean dismissed RA351, she made several “findings” that confirm Jeanne’s position, that the Court has never decided whether or not Prof Kong committed perjury, and Justice Thean rejected NUS’s arguments that the Court had already “dismissed” Jeanne’s allegations of perjury against  Prof Kong.

AGC’s refusal to grant consent is incongruent with the grand statements by PM Lee, says Jeanne Ten

In response to the AGC’s denial of permission for her to commence a private prosecution, Jeanne said to TOC, “I am very disappointed in the decision of the AG not to give me the consent to mount a private prosecution against Lily Kong for perjury. This decision is irrational and unreasonable in light of the evidence that is staring at the AG. The Magistrate, District Judge Ng Peng Hong, had directed me to seek the consent of the AG. If he thought my complaint of perjury was frivolous, I am sure he would have thrown my complaint out.”

She added, “I am contemplating taking out a Judicial Review of this irrational and unreasonable decision of the AG.”

“I don’t understand how the authorities can be spending time and resources pursuing Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Suet Fern for possible perjury when they have decided not to give me the consent to pursue a private prosecution in a clear-cut case.”

It was earlier reported that the police have commenced investigations into Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern for potential offences of giving false evidence in judicial proceedings, which was in connection to the last will of the late Lee Kuan Yew.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean, revealed this in a parliament reply to People’s Action Party Member of Parliament Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim on 2 March about the views of the Government on an e-book titled “The Battle Over Lee Kuan Yew’s Last Will,” authored by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh.

Hanging over Jeanne’s head is also NUS’ ongoing proceedings to bankrupt Jeanne for legal costs of about S$207,748.77, which Jeanne said was unjust because the costs order was based on a judgment that was tainted by perjury and the Court did not consider the perjury despite Jeanne’s efforts to get the Court to determine the perjury.

NUS had earlier said in a statement in December 2019 that it had expressed its reservations to the insurers about enforcing the costs orders but “acknowledges the legal right of the insurers to act in NUS’ name”.

Jeanne cited the Parliament motion that led to Mr Pritam Singh, leader of the Worker’s Party, being referred to the AGC for perjury as a backdrop. She pointed out that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had addressed the nation, stating, “If someone in a position of responsibility tells lies and visibly gets away with it, how can the public trust the system?… If we let flagrant, egregious transgressions pass, it will erode trust in our leaders, respect for Parliament, and support for our whole political system, and Singapore will be heading for trouble.”

She then commented, “The PAP Government’s approach to ‘protecting’ the ‘elite’ perjurer Lily Kong, BBM, ‘Justice of the Peace,’ is strikingly inconsistent with the prime minister’s emphatic statements made to the nation on 15 February 2022 in Parliament, turning Lily Kong’s perjury into a shameful national scandal.”

2022 02 14 DECLARATION AND OPINION_Dave Lewis (1)

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