….counsel for plaintiff
THE Workers’ Party yesterday tendered in the High Court an amended statement of claim in its slander suit against Mr. Tay Boon Too, MP for Paya Lebar, over his speech in a PAP election rally on Aug. 25, 1972.
Originally, the Workers’ Party alleged that Mr. Tay, then a PAP candidate for Paya Lebar, had stated at the rally that the plaintiff (the Workers Party) had received $600,000 “from sources outside Singapore” for its election expenses.
In the amended statement of claim, the plaintiff now alleges that Mr. Tay said at the rally that it had received the money “from Kuala Lumpur” for the election campaign and that the plaintiff also celebrated its anniversary at the Singapore Malay National Organisation’s premises.
The plaintiff further alleges now that by the reference to the SMNO, Mr. Tay allegedly indicated that the Workers Party “is not an independent party and that the SMNO is a Kuala Lumpur arm in Singapore which carries out subversive activities.”
Mr. Justice Chua allowed the amendment on an application by the plaintiff’s counsel and secretary-general, Mr. J. B. Jeyaretnam.
Strenuous objection on legal grounds to the “belated” amendment application was made by Mr. P. Selvadurai, who is assisting Mr. G. Starforth Hill, in conducting the case for Mr. Tay.
Mr. Justice Chua overruled the objection after hearing Mr. Jeyaretnam further and a submission by Senior State Counsel, Mr. Warren Khoo Liang Huat.
Mr. Khoo is assisting the Attorney-General, Mr. Tan Boon Teik, who is defending the Broadcasting Department, in another action by the Workers Party.
The joint hearing of both actions entered its third day yesterday.
According to the plaintiff, Radio Singapore carried in its news bulletin on Aug. 25, 1972 an item, arising from Mr. Tay’s rally speech, and repeated it in its newscast the following morning.
Mr. Jeyaretnam, assisted by Mr. Lee Tow Kiat, said at yesterday’s hearing that the plaintiff was, however, not seeking to amend its statement of claim in the writ against the Broadcasting Department in the same manner as that done in the suit against Mr. Tay.
Earlier, counsel told the court that the present amendment in the case against Mr. Tay was necessary in the light of the evidence given on Tuesday by an RTS reporter, Mr. Law Ah Ta, who covered the rally where Mr. Tay spoke.
Until Mr. Law testified, the plaintiff had been unable to secure a report from RTS of what Mr. Tay had allegedly said at the rally and on which Radio Singapore based its report and put over the air in its news programme.
Mr. Khoo confirmed a statement by Mr. Jeyaretnam that the Workers Party had not been allowed, on grounds of “privilege” before the hearing, to inspect records, maintained by RTS, in connection with the RTS coverage of the rally in question.
After allowing the amendment sought by the plaintiff, the court granted leave to Mr. Tay to amend its defence, if and when necessary, and also to recall any witnesses, who had already testified, for any possible further cross-examination.
The court then heard the evidence of druggist Mr. Wong Hong Toy, present chairman of the Workers Party and its former organising secretary.
Mr. Wong, a member of the party since 1961, was one of the 27 candidates who unsuccessfully contested the 1972 Parliamentary election on the party tickets.
He was testifying on his work in election rallies for the Workers Party and in the canvassing of votes from the electorate in eight constituencies when hearing was adjourned till tomorrow.