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High Court rejects opposition party leader Lim Tean’s bid to stop police from investigating him

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has dismissed opposition party chief and lawyer Lim Tean’s application for a judicial review to prevent the police from continuing two investigations against him.

The arrest of Mr Lim Tean at his law firm's office on Oct 2, 2020.

The arrest of Mr Lim Tean at his law firm's office on Oct 2, 2020.

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  • Peoples Voice party leader Lim Tean is facing two police investigations
  • One is for alleged breach of criminal trust, the other for alleged stalking
  • Mr Lim went to the High Court seeking an order to stop the police probes, claiming they were politically motivated
  • He also said one of the investigations amounted to contempt of court
  • Justice Ang Cheng Hock rejected Mr Lim’s application, saying it was “devoid of merit”

 

SINGAPORE — A High Court judge has dismissed opposition party chief and lawyer Lim Tean’s application for a judicial review to prevent the police from continuing two investigations against him.

Mr Lim, 56, who heads the Peoples Voice party, was arrested about two months ago for alleged criminal breach of trust and unlawful stalking.

In his full grounds of decision released on Tuesday (Dec 8), Justice Ang Cheng Hock found the claims in Mr Lim’s application to be “utterly devoid of any legal merit whatsoever”. The judge also ordered him to pay S$7,500 in costs.

Among other remedies, Mr Lim had sought prohibiting and mandatory orders to stop the investigation officers proceeding with their probes based on two grounds.

Mr Lim said that the criminal breach of trust case, where he allegedly misappropriated S$30,000 from AXA Insurance on behalf of a former client for a motor accident claim, was before the State Courts.

It would be “tantamount to contempt of court” if investigations continued, Mr Lim added.

He also claimed that the officer probing the stalking matter was colluding with the other officer investigating the criminal breach of trust case.

In his grounds for decision, Justice Ang said that the stalking case was based on the complainant’s allegation that Mr Lim had invited her for dinner and drinks at his home and persistently addressed her using inappropriate terms such as “darling” and “baby” even after she told him that she felt uncomfortable with this.

Mr Lim Tean outside the Supreme Court on Dec 3, 2020. He represented The Online Citizen chief editor Terry Xu, who has been sued for defamation by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

THE CASE

Before Mr Lim was arrested, his lawyer and colleague from Carson Law Chambers, Mr M Ravi, emailed a letter to the investigation officers.

Mr Ravi said that Mr Lim had no intention of turning up for interviews with the police, alleging that the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) was “investigating trumped up charges” that were “politically motivated”.

Mr Lim did not turn up for a scheduled interview on Sept 28.

Later on Oct 1, one of the investigation officers responded to Mr Ravi and rejected his assertions.

CAD officers then arrested Mr Lim at his office the next day and took him to the Police Cantonment Complex, where he did not answer any questions. He was released on bail.

On Oct 9, Mr Ravi said that he would be starting legal proceedings against the Singapore Police Force. He also wrote more letters to the police over the next few days stating that the arrest was unlawful and demanding the names of the arresting officers.

Eventually, on Oct 19, Mr Lim filed his judicial review application.

A judicial review seeks to ensure that the law is not in conflict with the doctrines of rule of law and separation of powers, or inconsistent with the Constitution.

‘FALLEN FAR SHORT’ OF SHOWING CASE

Justice Ang said in his judgement that Mr Ravi could not give any evidence to show that the investigations were tainted by political motivations.

The lawyer also did not refer to any authorities or legal principle “to support his rather remarkable contention” that the courts could order the CAD and police to discontinue their investigations into complaints made.

On the contrary, Justice Ang noted that the Criminal Procedure Code details how the police should carry out their investigations and record statements from persons of interest.

The police have a duty to investigate cases reported under the Criminal Procedure Code, Justice Ang said.

Mr Lim had “fallen far short” of showing that there was a case in favour of granting the remedies sought, the judge added.

“If a person’s statement of innocence or allegations of bad faith on the complainant’s part is enough to justify the court ordering a stop to police investigations, if that were even possible, it would make a mockery of the powers and procedures for criminal investigations set out in the Criminal Procedure Code,” Justice Ang said.

Mr Ravi also argued that Mr Lim’s former client was seeking “a second bite of the cherry” after not suing Mr Lim for the full sum of S$50,000 in damages for the motor accident claim.

The client had fired Mr Lim and hired another lawyer, Mr Joseph Chen, who then complained to the police about the missing S$30,000.

Justice Ang dismissed Mr Ravi’s argument, saying he did not see how contempt of court could arise from CAD’s investigations into Mr Lim’s actions.

Criminal investigations can proceed simultaneously with the client’s civil suit against AXA, the judge added.

In a Facebook post last month, when Justice Ang first gave his decision, Mr Ravi said that he would take the matter to the Court of Appeal.

Related topics

criminal breach of trust lim tean court investigation crime

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