THE High Court yesterday ordered the Workers’ Party, its chief J. B. Jeyaretnam and another defendant being sued for allegedly defaming 11 people, to pay S$3,350 in costs by tomorrow if they do not want their defence to be struck off.
The order was made by Ms Mavis Chionh, an assistant registrar, in a chambers hearing ahead of the open court hearing set for 10 days from next Monday.
The defamation suit was filed by the 11 members of the 1995 Tamil Language Week organising committee.
They claimed they were defamed in a Tamil article in the August 1995 issue of the WP’s organ, The Hammer.
The article alleged, among other things, that they organised the Tamil-language event in April 1995 to obtain and curry favour with the Government.
The plaintiffs are suing Mr Jeyaretnam as the editor of The Hammer. The other two defendants are the WP as its publisher, and Mr A. Balakrishnan, a party member who wrote the article.
The plaintiffs asked the court to strike out the defendants’ defence after the latter failed to comply with its orders to pay them the S$3,350 in interlocutory costs arising from their suit.
After the application was heard yesterday, Mr Jeyaretnam said he would appeal. He said: “We did not pay because they asked for it earlier, but they never asked for it again until they said they sent us a fax. We are appealing against the order.”
Asked if he would pay the S$3,350 by tomorrow, he replied: “I think so. Ask Mr Krishnan.” Mr G. Krishnan, a lawyer for the three defendants, was present at yesterday’s hearing of the application.
He confirmed that the money would be paid by tomorrow, so that the trial from Monday could go on.
Mr Liew Teck Huat, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, confirmed the order made yesterday.