Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong and Another

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date22 August 1997
Neutral Citation[1997] SGCA 39
Citation[1997] SGCA 39
Plaintiff CounselJB Jeyaretnam (JB Jeyaretnam & Co)
Date22 August 1997
Docket NumberMotion in Suit No 2523 of
Defendant CounselDavinder Singh SC and Hri Kumar (Drew & Napier)
Publication Date19 September 2003
SubjectAppeals,Award of costs discretionary,Disclosure of affidavit,s 34(2)(b) Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322),Whether wrongful exercise of discretion,Whether judge considered nature of affidavit,Party in contempt,Whether abuse of court process,Costs,Affidavits,Whether court had discretion not to hear contemnor,Prima facie case of error,Ambit of abuse,Applicable principles,Civil Procedure,Whether party with right of appeal had right to be heard,Amendments
Background

This was an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against an order of costs. On 28 April 1997, Lai Kew Chai J ordered Tang Liang Hong (Tang) to pay the costs of the application by Lee Kuan Yew (Lee) to delete certain paragraphs from his first and third affidavits filed on 27 January and 4 March 1997 respectively. These affidavits had been filed in support of a worldwide Mareva injunction against Tang and his wife, and to strike out Tang`s defence for non-compliance with certain court orders as part of defamation proceedings instituted against Tang.

The paragraphs in question read as follows: (a). Paragraphs 22.13 and 11.13 respectively of Lee`s first and third affidavits:

That place is notorious for shootings, muggings and car-jackings. It did not make any sense for a person who claims to be fearful for his life to go to a place like Johor.

(b). Paragraphs 22.15 and 11.15 respectively of Lee`s first and third affidavits:

Why would he instead go to Johor? If there is anywhere where people can do him harm, that is the place.



For convenience, these paragraphs shall be collectively called `the statements`.

The relevant events leading up to the present application are set out below:

27 January 1997 - Lee filed an affidavit in support of his application for
a worldwide Mareva injunction against both Tang
and his wife.
4 March 1997 - Lee filed an affidavit in support of his application to
strike out the defence of Tang and other ancillary
orders for his failure to comply with certain orders of
the court.
11 March 1997 - Tang gave a press conference in Johor Bahru. At the
same press conference, his Malaysian friend, one
Razak Ahmad, deliberately drew the attention of the
Malaysian reporters present to the statements, and this
provoked widespread anger in Malaysia over the
statements.
13 March 1997 - Lee apologised unreservedly to the Malaysian
Government for the statements.
17 March 1997 - Lee issued a personal statement repeating his
unreserved apology and said that he had instructed his
counsel to apply to court for leave to delete the
statements so that they would no longer remain on the
record.
23 April 1997 - Lee filed an application for leave to delete certain
paragraphs of his affidavit dated 27 January 1997 and
4 March 1997. An affidavit was filed in support of the
application. Solicitors for Lee appeared before the
duty registrar to seek an early date for the hearing of
the application, and requested that the application be
heard before Lai Kew Chai J who was familiar with
the facts of the case. The application was fixed for
hearing on 28 April 1997.
28 April 1997 - Lai Kew Chai J heard and granted the application but
awarded costs to Lee.
7 May 1997 - Tang filed an application for leave to appeal to the
Court of Appeal against the costs order made by Lai
Kew Chai J. The application was fixed for hearing
before Lai Kew Chai J on 12 May 1997.
12 May 1997 - Lai Kew Chai J heard and dismissed the application
for leave to appeal with costs.



On 19 May 97, Tang filed a notice of motion for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against Lai Kew Chai J`s costs order. The application was fixed for hearing before Goh Joon Seng J on 23 May 1997. Goh Joon Seng J, however, adjourned the application and directed that it be heard before the full Court of Appeal since a High Court judge had already heard and dismissed the first application for leave to appeal. The motion was thus fixed for hearing before this court on 7 July 1997.

Just three days before the hearing, counsel for Tang, Mr JB Jeyaretnam, indicated that he wanted an adjournment of the motion. In a brief letter written by Mr G Raman on his behalf, we were informed that Mr Jeyaretnam would be abroad on the day of the hearing on some urgent professional matter. Subsequently, on 7 July 1997 itself, Mr G Raman appeared before this court on behalf of Mr Jeyaretnam and sought an adjournment. Counsel for Lee objected and argued that there was ample time for Mr Jeyaretnam to arrange his schedule to be present in Singapore for the hearing. We, however, decided to accede to the adjournment despite this eleventh hour request, and the motion was re-fixed for hearing two weeks later.

The application for leave to appeal before this court was finally heard on 22 July 1997. After the hearing, we granted the motion. We now give our reasons.

The decision to allow the deletion

In granting the application to delete the statements, Lai Kew Chai J accepted the two grounds which were submitted by Lee`s counsel, Mr Davinder Singh SC. The learned judge said the following, which we have reproduced from the verbatim notes:

The application to delete the statements is made on two grounds. One, that Tang Liang Hong has abused the process of the court by using the affidavit of the Senior Minister, filed on 27 January1997, for a collateral purpose and two, that it is just and convenient, and in the interest [of] maintaining friendly relations between Malaysia and Singapore that those statements be deleted. I`m constrained to agree and to find that, rather regrettably, Tang Liang Hong had abused the process of the court by drawing attention to the statements without at the same time indicating the context in which those statements were made. The abuse of the process of court led to a train of events which have been described in court today and also which has been noted by almost every Singaporean. Now that`s as far as the personal conduct of Tang Liang Hong is concerned. Quite apart from that, I agree that it is also in the public interest that the inherent jurisdiction of a court should be exercised to prevent the kind of abuse of its process which I`ve seen, and also to promote and help in the promotion of friendly relations between Singapore and every other friendly country in the world. The judicial system cannot exist as though unto itself, but the administration of justice exists within the legal system of a country and it is unquestionable that the powers of the court must be used to promote and help maintain friendly relations between Singapore and every other friendly country. Hence, in matters of law, we have evolved in terms of international law the doctrine of comity of nations where as far as possible we respect and pay due respect and regard to the laws and usages of the country which has friendly relations with Singapore. Therefore, for those very brief reasons ... I will make an order in terms of prayer 2 of the application. The statements are to be deleted from the two affidavits. I`m glad to note that those representing both Mr Tang Liang Hong and Mrs Tang have indicated that they do not wish to be seen in any way to stand in the way of an order in terms of the application.



Turning more...

To continue reading

Request your trial
50 cases
  • Godfrey Gerald, Queen's Counsel v UBS AG and Others
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2003
    ...impugn the costs order, Mr Wee must show that the judge committed a prima facie case of error (Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong & Anor [1997] 3 SLR 489 at p 499). Mr Wee, however, devoted little attention to this ground of appeal. He only submitted that it was wrong for the judge to order him......
  • Virtual Map (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Singapore Land Authority and Another Application
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 6 January 2009
    ...are well-established. It suffices, for present purposes, to state that this court has established in Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong [1997] 3 SLR 489 (“Lee Kuan Yew”) at [16] (and reaffirmed in IW v IX [2006] 1 SLR 135; see also Singapore Civil Procedure 2007 ([16] supra) at para 57/16/14 an......
  • IW v IX
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 13 October 2005
    ...further argument and a decision of a higher tribunal would be to public advantage. 11 Next is the case of Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong [1997] 3 SLR 489, where leave was applied for to appeal against a costs order. Under s 34(2)(b) of the SCJA, leave is required where the only issue in the......
  • Blq v Blr
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 December 2013
    ...[2006] 1 SLR 135 (folld) Lau Loon Seng v Sia Peck Eng [1999] 2 SLR (R) 688; [1999] 4 SLR 408 (refd) Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong [1997] 2 SLR (R) 862; [1997] 3 SLR 489 (folld) NK v NL [2007] 3 SLR (R) 743; [2007] 3 SLR 743 (folld) Smith v Cosworth Casting Processes Ltd [1997] 1 WLR 1538 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 books & journal articles
  • WRITING A PERSUASIVE APPELLATE BRIEF
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal Nbr. 2007, December 2007
    • 1 December 2007
    ...349 at 357 and more recently, in Ng Bok Eng Holdings v Wong Ser Wan[2005] 4 SLR 561 at [34] and [35]. 26 Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong [1997] 3 SLR 489; Essar Steel Ltd v Bayerische Landesbank[2004] 3 SLR 25 (“Essar Steel”); and the more recent refinement in IW v IX[2006] 1 SLR 135 at [22]......
  • Civil Procedure
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2014, December 2014
    • 1 December 2014
    ...This case turned on factor (c), which was the possibility of a successful appeal. The court referred to Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong[1997] 2 SLR(R) 862 which laid out three considerations in considering the chances of an appeal: (a) whether there was a prima facie case of error; (b) wheth......
  • Civil Procedure
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2018, December 2018
    • 1 December 2018
    ...plaintiff's challenge against the jurisdictional ruling of an arbitral tribunal, applying the test in Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong [1997] 2 SLR(R) 862 at [16] that an applicant seeking leave to appeal needs to demonstrate that there exist questions falling within at least one of the follo......
  • Civil Procedure
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2006, December 2006
    • 1 December 2006
    ...Court”s decision on a custody matter should be granted. The courts followed the guidelines laid down in Lee Kuan Yew v Tang Liang Hong[1997] 3 SLR 489 whereby leave may be granted only where: (a) there was a prima facie case of error; (b) the matter involved a question of general principles......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT