It has been a while since I last posted. It has been an emotionally difficult time for me.
The hearing in my trial ended in November 2017. The Court’s decision was released on 9 July 2018.
I promised that I would let everyone know when the Court notified me of the date to attend Court to receive its decision. However, I was asked to go and pick up the written judgment on 9 July 2018 through a phone call.
I lost all my claims against NUS.
Needless to say, I am very upset with the verdict. I was also very shocked to read the judgment. It just did not add up.
The High Court found that NUS officers were incorrect in various key points in my case. The High Court even found that NUS was "wrong" to impose certain demands upon me, an to make the award of my Master of Arts degree conditional on my compliance with those wrongful demands, in a letter dated 11 August 2006. However, the High Court concluded that NUS officers were not liable for abuse of power and breach of contract when they withheld my MA degree from me despite the uncontested fact that I had completed all the academic requirements to qualify for the MA degree. (NUS even sent me the graduation ceremony invitation letter in 2006!)
Strangers wrote to me to offer their “condolences.” I thank you all who reached out to me privately or personally after the news of my loss was reported.
I am appealing the High Court's judgment, so I will be updating here.
Below are two examples of why the judgment is problematic. I post the entire Court Judgment here so you can verify the context. However, I take issue with numerous points in the judgment. These issues can only be put right through an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
So that's the next step.
In Singapore, appeals to the Court of Appeal are expensive. The filing fee alone for filing the Notice of Appeal is S$1,000+! When I tried to submit my Notice of Appeal to the Court, the Court rejected my Notice of Appeal, because I couldn't afford to pay the $20,000 security deposit which the Court requires. So, even though I have strong grounds to appeal, the Court refused to let me begin to appeal, because I couldn't afford to pay the S$20,000 security deposit. I have submitted an application to the Court, asking the Court of Appeal to grant me a waiver of the S$20,000 security deposit. The Court rules impose several hoops that people have to jump through if they want to have their cases heard in Court. Unfortunately, for an appeal to the Court of Appeal these "hoops" include costly filing fees and the $20,000 security deposit (see the details near the end of this post).
Bank: POSB 193-69702-0
(Scroll to the end of this post for more bank transfer details.)
The secret COI findings and the fact that Vice-Provost lied to me about the findings of the COI
The factual evidence:
(1) The COI that was convened to investigate my complaint found that Dr Wong Yunn Chii had failed to “systematically clarify how he would acknowledge [my] work...” when he used my MA thesis to generate his research project.
(2) The COI recommended that Dr Wong be censured for his failure to supervise my work properly and this failure included a failure to clarify how he would acknowledge my Thesis as noted above.
(3) The Vice-Provost of Education misled me into believing that Dr Wong had been exonerated by the COI.
The Court confirmed that the Vice-Provost of Education Lily Kong was incorrect in withholding the COI’s conclusion from me.
NUS took the position that the VP Lily Kong did indeed censure my then Supervisor Dr Wong and disclosed a letter from Vice-Provost Kong to Dr Wong.
However, having seen the letter, I feel that it was more of a slap on the wrist.
Vice-Provost Kong did not even tell Dr Wong that the COI found that he had failed to “systematically clarify how he would acknowledge [my] work...” when he used my MA thesis to generate his research project.
This is an important point to highlight to Dr Wong as it came closest to my complaint regarding Dr Wong's improper use of my MA Thesis (without acknowledgement.)
This clearly points to the protection of, and the cover-up of a wrong-doer.
An unreasonable graduation condition
As if protecting and covering-up for Dr Wong was not enough, Vice-Provost Kong attempted to white-wash the whole record by wrongfully demanding that I write to NUS to state that I accept the university decisions regarding my complaint.
In Court, NUS tried to argue that this condition was not imposed, and that I had misunderstood the construction of the sentence.
In Court, Vice-Provost Lily Kong denied statements in her email to her superior (the Provost, who later became the President of NUS), which clearly supported the fact that she had wrongfully imposed the unreasonable graduation condition on me.
The judge found that Vice-Provost Kong did in fact impose this unreasonable condition on me.
Something must change
How matters have turned out from the day I blew the whistle on my Supervisor in March 2005 upsets me a lot because the way things are done in our public institutions have apparently not improved.
Apart from the legal case, the first example above highlights something very inadequate in the NUS system. The lack of transparency (the university’s refusal to give me a copy of the COI Report) enabled Vice-Provost Kong to essentially lie to me that Dr Wong had been exonerated by the COI.
Vice-Provost Kong does not appear to have to be accountable for her wrongful actions.
After I (my candidature) was terminated by NUS, Vice-Provost Kong was appointed to positions such as Vice-President of NUS and Executive Vice-President of the Yale-NUS College in NUS.
Vice-Provost Kong left NUS in 2015, as my legal case was going on, to join another public university.
She was appointed Provost of Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2015. In 2017, as my NUS legal case was going on, Provost Lily Kong was identified as the most suitable candidate to lead the Singapore Management University as its University President. This was after a publicised global search for a suitable candidate!
President Lily Kong commences her appointment in 2019.
(It is crossing midnight this very moment as I write, so Provost Lily Kong is now officially President Lily Kong. Happy New Year everyone!)
SMU President Lily Kong’s unreasonable conduct in terminating my MA candidature and protecting a wrong-doer (my then supervisor Dr Wong) reveal her poor exercise of judgment, to say the very least.
But the powers that appointed her as University President don't seem to have a problem with that.
I strongly feel that this is very wrong. Singapore can do better!
My appeal to the Court of Appeal
I am now a Litigant-in-Person in my bid to get the Court of Appeal to hear my case.
I am not sure if the Court of Appeal will be willing to hear my appeal. I am pleading this as a “matter of public interest” amongst other reasons.
A hearing in the Court of Appeal is more expensive than a hearing in the High Court.
My first attempt in filing the Notice of Appeal in August 2018 was rejected due to the fact that I was unable to furnish a S$20,000 security.
I have filed an application to the Court of Appeal to ask the Court of Appeal for a dispensation for payment of security for cost citing grounds of public interest in my legal case and of course the fact that I cannot afford the security cost. Needless to say, I also believe that my appeal has merits.
Hopefully, the Court of Appeal will grant my application as my case is a matter of public interest.
Unfortunately, the cost of every application is very expensive. For example, my first attempt to file the Notice of Notice Appeal in August 2018 cost $S1,000+.
The application I just filed to the Court of Appeal to allow me to refile the above Notice of Appeal out of time and to dispense with the $20,000 security costs is S$627.60. It remains to be seen if the Court is going to accept my application.
Keeping my fingers crossed!
Again, thank you to all of you who have written to me in the months before the judgment was issued and those of you who reached out to me after reading the judgment online.
If you would like to help me financially in my appeal, here are my bank details:
POSB Everyday Savings Account 193-69702-0
Ten Leu Jiun Jeanne-Marie
DBS Bank Pte Ltd
12 Marina Boulevard,
DBS Asia Central,
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3,
Bank swift code: