Roy Ngerng in the witness box – trial titbits

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Roy Ngerng in his interview with Joel Lazarus (image - YouTube)

Roy Ngerng in his interview with Joel Lazarus (image - YouTube)

• High Court Judge Justice Lee Seiu Kin started the second day of the hearing for damages to be awarded to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by telling the accused, blogger Roy Ngerng, about what he can do in the witness box where he was to be cross-examined by PM Lee’s lawyer, Davinder Singh. Justice Lee allowed Ngerng to object to questions by Singh, as he has no legal counsel. Nevertheless, Ngerng did not exercise that option throughout the cross-examination.

• Ngerng also provided additional evidence – two bundles of documents of 35 and 47 pages – to show that PM Lee’s reputation has not been affected by the his blog post. He noted that respondents on PM Lee’s Facebook page on two recent occasions – when he celebrated his 10 years a Prime Minister and when he posted about corruption in government – praised him for his honour and dignity. Ngerng thus contended that PM Lee’s reputation was not affected, and hence there was no need for him to seek aggravated damages.

• Davinder Singh, PM Lee’s lawyer, started the cross examination by referring Ngerng to his past occupation and experience in promoting healthcare, affirming that he would be someone who would “carefully consider what [he]say and how [he]said it” and that he would “make whatever point to get the message home”. This was to follow later into Singh’s suggestion that Ngerng had been deliberate in crafting his blog posts and using the Letter of Demand to further defame PM Lee.

• Singh mentioned The Online Citizen twice during the cross examination – the first when asking Ngerng if he was aware that TOC carried reports of his defamation case; and the second when asking Ngerng if he was aware that Mr Leong Sze Hian, one of the people whom Ngerng had granted access to a video he produced that was deemed defamatory, contributed content to TOC. It was not clear where Singh was heading with these questions.

• Singh asked Ngerng if he was aware of that criminal charges were laid on the people involved in the City Harvest Church case, and if he knew that there was a lot of public interest in the case, when he had drawn references between City Harvest Church and the Central Provident Fund. “I’m aware that people are interested in Serina Wee and maybe Sun Ho. I’m not sure if they are interested in the case,” Ngerng replied.

• Singh repeatedly attempted to draw links in Ngerng’s blog post that suggested parallels between City Harvest Church and CPF management. Ngerng insisted that the charts he used did not mention misappropriation of CPF monies in relation to LHL, but only in reference to the government. This went on for a while with Singh trying to pick apart the statements Ngerng made in court, until Ngerng eventually retorted in frustration, “Which part of my statement said ‘Lee Hsien Loong’?”

Roy Ngerng protest TOCTV• "Aiyoh, what kind of logic is that!" – Ngerng had openly exclaimed when Singh repeatedly cited paragraphs in his Evidence in Chief to try and draw links between how Ngerng referred to the CPF and PM Lee.

• Ngerng continued to challenge Singh to show proof of the link, to which Singh has yet to do so directly. “Mr Singh, You are a Senior Counsel, do not drag the argument!” he said at one point.

• At another point during the heated exchange, Justice Lee reminded Ngerng that he can choose to answer or not answer Singh’s questions, but he should avoid “berating the Senior Counsel”.

• Singh sought to convince the court that in publishing Letter of Demand, RN was deliberately trying to increase traffic to and publicity for his site. Ngerng, however, insisted that he was scared, sad and angry that the government had wanted to sue him for raising the CPF issue. “My initial reaction was – oh my god, Davinder Singh, the PM’s lawyer, sent me a letter!"

• Singh tried to suggest that, because Ngerng still had the Letter of Demand on his blog, he was continuing the aggravation. “Did you ask me to take down the Letter of Demand?” Ngerng retorted, saying that he would have removed it if Singh had asked him to. "Come on, Mr Singh… I have been very supportive of you the past few days, you know that."

• Singh asked Ngerng why he continued to write about the CPF. “Are you suggesting that the purpose of the Letter [of Demand]was to cow me into submission?” Ngerng responded. “I will still stand up (and fight), because [CPF and the defamation suit] were separate issues.”

• At another point, when Singh cross examined him about a video he posted that suggested Ngerng was referring to CPF management and PM Lee as one and the same, Ngerng told Singh to look at the video in its entirely instead, retorting, “You do not get to cherry-pick what you want to read in my video, what you want to link it to.”

• DS pointed out that following Ngerng's promise that he would not repeat the allegations, he sent an email to “a host of journalists”, publishing the link to the Letter of Demand. “You drew attention to the letter, knowing that the letter had [a link to]the offending article in there.” Ngerng, however, said that he also included a link to his apology in the email.

Also read TOC's report on the second day of the hearing.