Last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued a letter of demand to blogger Roy Ngerng, for a blog post which Mr Ngerng had put up on his blog. Mr Lee is claiming that Mr Ngerng’s post “constitutes a very serious libel" against him, and that it also "disparages him and impugns his character, credit and integrity.”
In his book, “Hard truths to keep Singapore going”, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), however, seems to see it differently, as far as “defamatory” content on the Internet is concerned.
The following is an excerpt from the book.
It is interesting to note that Mr Lee is of the view that the people behind such content are “worthless people” and that such content does not “chip away at the credibility and the integrity of government.”
The excerpt is on page 89 and 90 of the book.
Q: You talked earlier about how, you know, if the mainstream media continues to publish untruths you will go after them if it’s libellous.
LKY: Yes, of course.
Q: But at the same time, what’s already out there on the Internet is defamatory, far more damaging.
LKY: What’s out on the Internet everybody knows can be utterly scurrilous and no action can be taken, because it’s very difficult.
Q: Some of them are very open about their identity.
LKY: But they are worthless people, they’ve got no money. You take them on, you waste money and then what will you get in compensation? Nothing.
Q: But doesn’t what they say chip away at the credibility and the integrity of government?
LKY: No, I don’t think so. After a while people understand it’s just rambling and ranting on the Internet.
Q: Precisely because people know the record of the PAP government, do you need to nail every lie to protect your reputation at all cost?
LKY: Put that question to the new leaders. I defended my position tooth and nail. I succeeded. I fought against the media in Singapore and internationally. I won because I’ve persuasive powers. I can speak to the people over the blather of the media. In a way, I’m like a local Ronald Reagan. And I deliver. When I say I’ll do something, they know I’m going to do it.
So when I say I’m going to fix that guy, he will be fixed.
Let’s make no bones about it.
I carry my own hatchet. If you take liberties with me, I’ll deal with you. I look after myself because when you enter a blind alley with the communists, only one person comes out alive and I have come out alive. So I’m not afraid of going into an alley with anybody, let alone the foreign press.
What can they do to me? Can they influence my votes? They can’t.