Response to Media Queries on SDP's statement "Urgent: Dr Chee Soon Juan's health deteriorates in prison", 01 December 2006
(Information is correct as at 1 Dec 2006, 6 p.m.)
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has issued a press statement titled - "Urgent: Dr Chee Soon Juan's health deteriorates in prison" - which contains grave falsehoods and serious allegations attacking the integrity of the Singapore Prison Service.
2 The SDP press statement alleged that Chee Soon Juan's health has deteriorated in prison and implied that this may have been deliberately caused by the Prison authorities drugging him. According to the statement, Chee is in enormous discomfort and that "even the sound of his cell mate urinating ... (is) causing him massive headaches". The SDP statement also asserted that Chee has been deprived of family visits and "yard time" by prison authorities as punishment for not eating his meals.
3 The facts expose the mischief of these insinuations. Chee, Yap Keng Ho and Ghandi Ambalam had undergone a thorough medical check-up as part of routine admission procedure when they were first admitted to prison. On 25 Nov, Chee complained of nausea and giddiness to Prison staff and medical attention and medication was given to address his complaint. Like any other prisoner, Chee receives medical attention if he has any complaint of illness. Chee has not been deprived of yard time or family visits. On the contrary, he has been making full use of his daily yard time to jog and exercise. Since his admission to prison, Chee has also been consuming meals issued to him. However, Chee has selectively decreased his consumption and did not eat some meals. On the occasions that he did not consume his meals, he explained to the warden that he did not want to eat or had no appetite. Chee was also visited on 28 Nov 2006 by his sister, Ms Chee Siok Chin. Neither she nor Chee made any complaint of illness or ill-treatment to Prisons' staff.
4 Chee, Yap and Ghandi are treated no differently from other inmates. They are given access to basic amenities and appropriate health care. They are also accorded visitation rights by family members. The SDP statement stated that Yap is on a hunger strike. Since admission, Yap has in fact been consuming the fruit and drinks which are provided with the regular meals he is given daily. He has also been chewing the rest of the food, and spitting some out. Yap's family has not requested to visit him in the prison.
5 The SDP press statement declares Chee, Yap and Ghandi to be prisoners of conscience whose incarceration is politically motivated by the Government or the ruling party. It asserts that they have not committed any offence. Chee, Yap and Ghandi were charged and tried in open court and were found guilty of having committed an offence. They were fined $5,000, $2,000 and $3,000 respectively. However, they chose not to pay the fine and elected instead to go to jail in lieu of the fine. Chee, Yap and Ghandi are therefore in prison because they deliberately sought this situation - their incarceration is a product of their own political motivation.
6 The allegations contained in the SDP statement are baseless, malicious and seek to undermine the reputation of the Singapore Prison Service, which has over the years been recognized by its international counterparts to be efficient, transparent and committed to the well-being of the inmates under its charge.
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
01 December 2006