Singapore: Excerpts from July 20th Case Trial Session (Photo)
(Clearwisdom.net) The final round of the trial on the July 20th case by the Singapore government against Falun Gong practitioners was held on November 28 to 30, 2006. The accused practitioners did not have a lawyer to represent them and had to defend themselves in court. The two practitioners are Mr. Erh Boon Tiong and Ms. Ng Chye Huay. One is an engineer, and the other is a homemaker. They raised many questions in court to both the judge and prosecutor, who could not come up with answers to many of them or simply stopped the line of questioning.
Erh Boon Tiong and Ng Chye Huay (right) in front of the Singapore Subordinate Court
Before the end of the trial, the prosecutor reminded the judge to remove some critical questions and answers from the court record. His rationale was that "related evidence has been rejected by the court, and if this testimony still remains on the record, it is equivalent to getting on the record through the back door." So what were these questions that made the prosecutor so uneasy, that he asked them to be removed? This article compiles some of those questions and answers.
On the Trial
Ng Chye Huay requested a bigger courtroom at the beginning of the trial on November 28, so that more of the public could witness the proceedings.
Ng: I once again request the judge for a bigger courtroom. We have raised this question numerous times at pre-trial sessions. It is not difficult for you, as there are many big courtrooms in this court. We have many supporters, and you should not have them stand outside. I don't want to file a motion to the high court for this, but this is like holding a hearing in secret. I hope we can be treated fairly.
Judge: The Court has already ruled on this matter, and the reasons were given. Call prosecutor witness No.1.
On whether or not the police witness Sunny Ooi believes Falun Gong is persecuted
Ng: (asking Sunny Ooi) At the last hearing, you said that if we can prove the persecution is factually correct, this charge cannot stand. Do you still have the same opinion?
Prosecutor/DPP: (Interrupts) This question is not for Sunny Ooi to answer. This is for the judge to decide.
Ng: (Continues) Do you know last month when Lee Kuan Yew visited Southern Methodist University in Dallas of the United States, local Falun Gong practitioners told him that China is brutally persecuting Falun Gong, and they urged Singapore not to follow the CCP to persecute Falun Gong. He said that Singapore is a small country ...
Prosecutor: (Interrupts:) The defendant should not follow this line of questioning.
Judge: It is not relevant to the charge.
Ng: They are relevant, as the charge is politically motivated.
Judge: If you do not proceed, I will conclude that you have no more questions.
Ng: I have a lot of questions, but you do not allow me to carry on. Lee Kuan Yew has publicly admitted that [what is happening to] Falun Gong is persecution.
Judge: What is your question?
Ng: Does he (Sunny Wei) still have the same stance as before?
Prosecutor: His opinion is not relevant here.
Why was the charge against Chen Peiyu suddenly dropped?
Ng: (Asking Sunny Ooi) Do you know that Ms. Chen Peiyu (one of the three practitioners involved in the July 20 case) was stopped by Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) officers when she was shopping? She was then informed that the charge against her was dropped and she had to leave Singapore?
Prosecutor: This is the case of the July 20 harassment. Now she is talking about Chen Peiyu...
Judge: That is not relevant.
Ng: She is one of the persons involved, so how could she be not relevant? All of it is related. I hope that you will give us a clear explanation about the matter of Chen Peiyu. Why did you suddenly drop the charges against her and force her to leave Singapore? Was it a joint action of the court, the police and the ICA?
Judge: I have already said that this is not relevant.
Why was the charge leveled as Li Lanqing was visiting Singapore?
Ng: (Asking Sunny Ooi) Before July 20, Ms. Chen Peiyu and I went in front of the Chinese Embassy to peacefully protest every day, and there was no charge against us. Why was it only when MM Lee invited Li Lanqing to visit Singapore that it became so-called harassment?
Sunny Ooi: There is another charge (On July 12, Ng Chye Huay did meditation alone in front of the Chinese Embassy) pending for holding a banner protesting Li Lanqing's visit.
Ng: That is why I am asking the question.
Prosecutor: (Interrupts) This is the subject of another charge and not relevant.
Ng: The present charge is also related to Li Lanqing.
Judge: (cut in) What is your question?
Ng: After Li Lanqing visited Singapore, many Falun Gong practitioners were charged and deported. This is not a coincidence.
Prosecutor: These are side issues and not relevant to the charge.
Ng: This is relevant because I have had many conversations with Sunny Ooi, and he told me that he has to follow his boss' orders. But I told him not to go against his conscience. We did not commit a crime, as there are political factors behind our arrest ...
Requesting equality before the law
Ng: (Pointing to some photos, asking Sunny Ooi) I took photos of these banners from other groups, and similar banners can be seen in many places. Why did this [Falun Gong banners] constitute harassment, while the other banners did not?
Prosecutor: Objection. You can't ask for his opinion, only about facts.
Judge: Sunny Ooi's opinion is not relevant.
Ng: This is a case of discrimination against us that is politically motivated.
Judge: Next question.
Ng: (to Judge) You are sworn to uphold justice.
Judge: Next question.
Ng: (asking Sunny Ooi) Who was being harassed? Where is the victim?
Prosecutor: This is a matter of law. The charge is "likely to cause harassment."
Judge: Next question.
Erh: (Asking Sunny Ooi) Was it your own decision that our behavior caused harassment to the public?
Sunny Ooi: Yes, it was my own decision.
Erh: I say that your judgment is incorrect.
Judge: You can talk about that later.
Erh: Do you know that something very serious is happening in China, where the organs of Falun Gong practitioners are being harvested?
Judge: That is not relevant.
Regarding the persecution in China
Erh: If one person sees another committing murder, and the first person brings out a banner calling for help--if the police charges the first person but not the second, then it is not justified.
The CCP is killing people, and Singapore should step forward and try to stop it. The law should punish the bad people, not the good ones. We are the ones actually being harassed in Singapore, as the media here have made untruthful reports over the past several years. The government officials, the police and the media employees are also victims. We are not against anybody.
The persecution of Falun Gong is fact, and we have much evidence to submit to the court. We should encourage those who dare to tell the truth. Every minute, there are Falun Gong practitioners being tortured. As a human being, it is your responsibility to act.
Prosecutor: There is nothing to say. The facts speak for themselves. The facts for this charge have been submitted and established.
Regarding why Ng Chye Huay went to the Chinese Embassy
Ng: (As a witness) I am not guilty and should not be sitting here. I should be sitting at the Chinese Embassy urging them to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. One and a half years ago, I read on the Minghui website that Gao Rongrong was tortured and disfigured by the police with electric batons, and later tortured to death. I was very sad. It was then that I decided to protest in front of the Chinese Embassy, no matter how difficult it was. I'm regretful that I went there too late, I should have been there since 2000. I was charged three times by the Singapore government, and I know that this case's result might have been determined already. The trial is being held in secret, and the prosecution is removing witnesses. I know that Lee Kuan Yew is in control of everything, similar to the CCP's way of doing things. The saddest case was that of Chen Peiyu, a 73-year-old woman. She has relatives here, but you forced her to leave Singapore, becoming destitute and homeless.
Both Lee Kuan Yew and Yong Pung How (Lee's good friend and former chief justice) said when confronting issues of Falun Gong that Singapore is a small country. We cannot lose our conscience, just because we are a small country, and trade it for economic benefits.
Singaporeans should wake up. I will keep going to the Chinese Embassy to protest the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong and tell people about the persecution of Falun Gong. I'm proud of what I have done, as that is for the good of others.
Prosecutor: Why must you go to the Chinese Embassy every day, why not to the zoo or other places?
Ng: Because the CCP persecutes Falun Gong.
Prosecutor: So your audience is the Chinese Embassy and its officials?
Ng: Not just them. I also want to tell others who visit the embassy and Singaporeans who pass by.
Prosecutor: You target embassy officers and Singapore people who pass by?
Ng: We help them learn about the truth, without targeting anyone.
Prosecutor: What do you expect them to do? Can they help stop the alleged persecution? What does the banner have to do with saving life in China?
Ng: At least it can help dispel their misunderstanding. They can also write or tell their friends about the situation, and at least if their friends or families go to China for organ transplants, they should think twice before doing so.
Prosecutor: Has any citizen complained to you?
Ng. No. Many people who have learned about the truth admire and support us. Some people who went to the Chinese Embassy to get visas approached me and asked me to help them quit the CCP and its affiliated organizations. Some Chinese people said "Falun Dafa is good" to me.
There is a house opposite the Chinese Embassy, and the owner is very supportive of us, allowing us to hang banners in front of his house.
Regarding the sudden change of procedure for appealing
On November 30, prior to the verdict being announced, Ng Chye Huay requested the court to summon Ms. Chen Peiyu to testify in court. In the past, submission of applications for summoning somebody could be done at the counter by filling out a form, but this procedure was suddenly modified. Now once a case enters the trial period, the judge has to approve the application first.
Ng: We submitted the application for summoning Ms. Chen Peiyu yesterday, but our application was rejected. The rules changed suddenly, requiring the judge's approval. Ms. Chen Peiyu is a very important witness for the case, and I hope you can approve.
Judge: Why do you call the witness now? What can she do here?
Prosecutor: (Cuts in) Why did she wait until today to subpoena the witness? Why did she only ask yesterday, not weeks before? Also, what does Ms. Chen have to say?
Ng: The prosecutor withdrew a witness (the photographer) at the last minute. The charges against Ms. Chen were suddenly withdrawn. Why can you make all these changes but I can't?
Prosecutor: (No response)
Judge: How is the witness (Ms. Chen Peiyu) going to help the court to determine the facts?
Ng: She was there. You rejected our witnesses, because they were not on the scene. But this witness was there. I also wish to know why you withdrew the charges against Ms. Chen.
Judge: Anything else?
Ng: You should uphold justice.
Should someone have to be on the scene to testify
After Erh Boon Tiong read his closing statement on November 30, he continued:
Erh: I wish to refute the prosecutor on what he said. He said that those who are not at the scene are not relevant to the case. Let's take a simple example: a person who pays for a killing doesn't need to be at the scene. Also, the prosecutor said that someone from the Chinese Embassy took a picture of us showing that we harassed him. Of course, a murderer would not be happy if he is exposed. For this trial, we have filed a motion to the high court. The motion is being processed, and you should wait for the outcome of the high court and then make a verdict.
Prosecutor: I request the judge to purge the record of such testimony, including the alleged persecution of Falun Gong, what MM Lee has said, the UN report, the US Congressional resolution and so on. Related evidence has been rejected by the court, and if the testimony still remains in the court record, it is equivalent to allowing it through the back door. Regarding your criminal motion, the high court did not give a hearing date. You indeed went to the Chinese Embassy to display a banner on July 20, and this is not in dispute. According to Singapore's case law, previous counsel VK Rajah said that this constitutes harassment, and it's common sense to say that. The main perspective of the law is that it may be a peaceful activity, but it potentially threatens others and is full of anger and discontent. On the topic of evidence, Sunny Ooi's opinion is not relevant to this matter. His opinion only affected the initial charge, and is not relevant to these proceedings. The court is to decide the case according to the law. The defendants have complained continuously and filed a criminal motion to the high court and to the appeals court. This has caused such a delay in this case, and that's the accused's big strength. Even today, they still complain about being treated unfairly. They came to the court with a set thinking, that they are unfairly treated, that they are being persecuted. In fact, they are slandering the court.
I request to erase the record of the remark about the timing (during the visit of Li Lanqing) of the charges and about MM Lee's visit. I don't know where all these came from, and they are all just allegations.
The accused practitioners' reaction to the verdict
Judge: I've carefully considered both sides' submissions. I think the prosecution's case is very convincing, the court does not have any doubt. The court finds you guilty. I will now hear your requests for mitigation.
Ng Chye Huay: I did not commit an offense, so why should I request mitigation? This secret trial and verdict is an insult to the justice system of Singapore. What we argued about focused on why the prosecution witness' decision was incorrect, so how should it have nothing to do with the case? This trial is obviously just going through the motions, as our defendants' calling witnesses and providing evidence were extremely restricted. The prosecution had originally planned for two witnesses and suddenly withdrew one. They wanted to hastily close the case. The verdict was decided a long time ago.
Judge: I take it that you don't have any mitigation based on that statement. [Looks at Erh]
Erh: I feel sorry for the judgment that you have chosen. Kind people are not given support, and the bad people are being encouraged. All that we have done was for the sake of everyone's future. I have no regrets.
Prosecutor: I think that it is clear that there is no remorse here.
Judge: I will read the verdict. $1,500 or 15 days in prison for Ng Chye Huay; $1,000 or 10 days in prison for Erh Boon Tiong.
(The judge and prosecutor left the court in a hurry after the verdict was announced.)
Ng and Erh: We request an appeal to the high court and bail.
The police officer: (After consulting with the judge) The judge ruled that if you do not pay the fine on the spot, you will be directly sent to prison to serve the terms before you can appeal.
A local lawyer gave the following opinion: The judge can indeed decide if the verdict can be carried out before the appeal is heard. Under normal circumstances, once the defendants ask for an appeal, they should be allowed to be bailed out pending the outcome of the appeal. Only when the defendant is a criminal who is a serious threat to public order, does the judge refuse to release them on bail. The judge's refusal to release the defendants on bail is against normal proceedings, as obviously he is determined to send the defendants to prison.