Chee Soon Juan has been receiving heartening words of encouragement from fellow democrats around Asia, including Hong Kong's Martin Lee Chu-ming. 'I have always believed . . . that democrats in the region as well as internationally should stand up for each other when democratic beliefs and our values are being threatened,' Chee said as he left court yesterday. 'That I think is a very important step and we will continue to do our part for democrats in other parts of the world.' The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, an organisation of nine Asian liberal democratic parties currently run out of Manila, is calling for all charges against Chee to be dropped and accused the Singapore Government of persecution. Chee said he had also received messages of support from Hong Kong's Democratic Party chairman Mr Lee and Lim Kit Siang, leader of the Democratic Action Party in Malaysia. Last year, Mr Lee wrote the forward to Chee's latest book on the state of Singapore democracy entitled To Be Free. The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats' statement calls on the Singapore Government to ensure Chee's right to freedom of expression and assembly, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which it is a signatory. It also asks the Government to 'refrain from the continued political harassment and persecution' of Chee, a US-trained neuro-psychologist, who was sacked several years ago as a lecturer by the National University of Singapore and then heavily fined for defamation. Chee's Singapore Democratic Party, which is one of the nine Asian council members, failed to win a seat in Singapore's last general elections in 1996, when the ruling People's Action Party once again swept to power. The party, which won 81 out of 83 elected seats last time, has governed since independence in 1965.