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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 21 December 2006

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What really happened with Chee in prison

Source: www.mha.gov.sg

Ministry of Home Affairs Response to Misinformation in Statements Issued by Chee Soon Juan on SDP Website (Dated 18 Dec 06)

Chee Soon Juan has issued a statement on 18 Dec 06, titled ¡°What really happened in prison¡±, where he has made paranoid claims suggesting that the food served to him in prison had caused him ¡°acute nausea, dizziness and distortion of (my) auditory senses¡± such that he found the sounds of his ¡°cell-mates urinating ¡­unbearably loud¡±.
Chee¡¯s Nausea and his Marked Tray
Chee asserted that his suspicion was heightened because he noticed that his food tray was marked. The facts are simple ¨C it is normal Prisons procedure to record the food consumption of inmates under close watch.
This procedure applies not just to Chee Soon Juan but to all such inmates. In this connection, the food trays of Chee¡¯s associates, Yap Keng Ho and Ghandi Ambalam were also marked to allow Prisons to monitor their food intake. This was done following Yap¡¯s declaration that he was going on a hunger strike.
For Chee especially, the marking of food trays should not be new as this procedure was applied to him when he was in prison in Oct 2002 and again in Mar 2006. He had no complaints then about the marking of his food tray.
At no point in time did Chee raise concern over his food tray with the Prisons authorities or with the prison medical officer and nurses.
Nevertheless, when the Prisons authorities observed that Chee was refusing to eat his meals, the Prisons authorities surmised that Chee may lay claim to being suspicious over the marking of his food tray.
To address this and assure him, Chee was allowed to choose among unmarked trays from 2 Dec 06 but he continued to persist in not eating. He also persisted in his demand that he would only eat home-cooked meals prepared by his wife. (Prisons policy, which applies to all inmates, does not allow this.)
In fact, Chee seemed to be paranoid about the hospital¡¯s medical staff too when he was first admitted to hospital. Chee refused to eat even the meals served by the Changi General Hospital when he was initially referred to the hospital for medical tests to verify his complaint of nausea and to establish its cause.
Chee claimed that he and his family members have repeatedly asked for a complete set of his medical report but have not received them. This is certainly untrue.
Chee only gave his consent to the authorities for his medical report to be released to his sister on 14 Dec 06. The medical report is being prepared by the medical officer from Raffles Medical Group and should be ready for collection in two weeks, subject to payment of a fee.
The Alleged Sleep Deprivation and Removal of His Books
Chee also claimed that the Prisons authorities used sleep deprivation tactics like leaving the lights in the cell on through the night, and that his books were taken away from him when he returned from the hospital to prison.
Chee seems to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance as he again imagines that these measures are specially drawn up for his sake.
Chee initially slept in a cell with cell-mates, where the lights were turned off at night. Chee however complained that he had problems sleeping and asked for valium to help him sleep. He was given valium by the medical officer and was observed to have slept well.
On his return from Changi General Hospital, Chee was placed in a cell equipped with CCTV. The lights at such cells are kept switched on from 6 pm to 8 am the following day for visibility to enable prison officers to monitor inmates under close supervision, including those with suicidal tendencies or who may cause self-inflicted injuries.
Prison officers observed that Chee¡¯s cell-mates slept without trouble. At his request, Chee was also given valium and was observed to have rested at least 6 to 7 hours each night. This was recorded by the CCTV camera.
Chee complained that his books were taken from him when he returned to prison from the hospital. Chee brought a total of 32 books with him to prison, far more than any other prisoner. These 32 books were allowed.
When he was referred to the hospital, Chee brought with him 7 books for his reading while in hospital. On his return, these 7 books were required to be subjected to security screening. This is a standard security procedure for all items, books included, which are brought in from outside into the prison.
However, Chee again clearly expected to be treated differently and exempted from such rules which apply to all inmates.
What Really Happened in Prison
From 26 Nov 06, Chee reduced his food intake and on 28 Nov 06, he stopped eating completely. Chee then refused alternative meal options.
Between 25 Nov 06 and 4 Dec 06, Chee resisted blood tests (to establish the cause of his purported nausea) and medical assistance from the prison medical officer and the doctors of Changi General Hospital.
Coincidentally, on the day that Chee stopped eating (28 Nov 06), the SDP website posted a statement ¡°Dr Chee Soon Juan¡¯s health deteriorates in prison¡± and started to purvey the story that Chee was unwell because of his treatment in prison.
Soon after that, several foreign Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) wrote to express concerns similar to that purveyed by the SDP over Chee¡¯s health and his treatment in prison.
Then just as strangely as Chee had stopped eating on 28 Nov 06, Chee abruptly resumed eating his meals on 4 Dec 06. He ate his dinner ordered from a menu of choices at Changi General Hospital.
The results of medical tests showed that Chee was fit and that he should be discharged from hospital.
On his return to prison, and when he was placed in a cell under CCTV observation, Chee decided to eat prison meals and behaved well enough to be eligible for remission of his sentence. Chee was released with remission of sentence on 16 Dec 06.
Chee¡¯s incarceration is a result of his own doing and political motivation ¨C he broke the law and was convicted with due process but chose to go to jail instead of paying the fine.
Chee¡¯s insinuations about being the victim of some food conspiracy by the authorities are ridiculous and a product of his own mischief.
The facts about Chee¡¯s conduct and actions in prison show that no one has made him nauseous; the medical tests done in the hospital showed that he was fit to return to prison.
Instead, what is clear is that Chee¡¯s purported ¡°ailment¡± in prison served only to provide an expedient story for his associates and foreign supporters to faithfully distort and exploit for political mileage.
In the end, this was what really happened with Chee in prison.
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
20 DECEMBER 2006

Source: www.mha.gov.sg Media Release 20 Dec 2006

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