A magazine and its editor have been ordered to pay Singapore’s prime minister and his father over 400,000 dollars (290,000 US) for defamation, court documents showed Tuesday.
The High Court ordered the Review Publishing Company, publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), and editor Hugo Restall to pay 200,000 dollars in damages and 30,000 dollars in legal costs to Premier Lee Hsien Loong.
His father, the former leader Lee Kuan Yew, will get 150,000 dollars in damages and 25,000 dollars in legal costs.
The penalties were set after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2008 decision finding the defendants guilty of defaming the Lees in a 2006 article based on an interview with Chee Soon Juan, an opposition party leader.
From Asia Sentinel:
In agreeing to the settlement rather than continue to fight the case, Dow Jones issued the following statement:
“Dow Jones strongly disagrees with the decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal upholding the ruling against the Far Eastern Economic Review in the defamation case brought by Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew. The Court casts significant doubt as to whether Singapore will ever recognize the fair and honest reporting privilege accorded to responsible journalism — a privilege available in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries with diverse histories and cultures.
“The Court ruled that even if the privilege were to apply in Singapore, it does not apply to the foreign press – based on the misguided notion that non-Singaporeans have no vested interest in Singapore society. Having waged this battle for press freedom to Singapore’s highest court, we are now resolving this case rather than engaging in a protracted damages process. But make no mistake, Dow Jones does not believe it defamed Lee Hsien Loong or Lee Kuan Yew, and this decision will not deter us from our core mission, which is to provide fair and timely reporting and commentary on matters of importance from around the world, including in Singapore.”