Before PM Lee Hsien Loong filed a defamation lawsuit against blogger Roy Ngerng in May last year, Roy was hardly known in Singapore. Thanks to Mr Lee’s lawsuit, Roy has become a household name.
At the court hearing on Wednesday (1 Jul), it was revealed that Mr Lee was already “watching” Roy’s blog before he became “famous”.
This was revealed in an exchange between Mr Lee and Roy in court on Wednesday:
Roy:You did not reach out to me before you sued me?
PM: No, you defamed me. I have to defend myself.
Roy: Yes, yes. The question is you didn’t reach out to me.
PM: Yes, I wrote you a letter asking you to take it down and apologise.
Roy: Now, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) wrote to me on Twitter, I used a photo of theirs and they asked for a photo credit. If you had reached out to me, we could have resolved things.
PM: You have chosen a different path for your own reasons, I accept that. Well, you have to take the consequences.
Roy: Mr Lee, CNA did not send me a demand letter … They request, and I did it voluntarily. Would you have chosen to not send me a demand letter?
PM: You have been skirting closer and closer to defaming me for a long period of time. I have been watching this, I have not responded. Eventually, it was unambiguous and flagrant and I decided I had no choice but to act.
Roy: Mr Lee, you just made an accusation about me.
PM: Because you have been making more and more outrageous allegations about the CPF, stopping short of accusing me of doing bad things personally, but coming closer and closer to saying that. And at some point last year, when you published this post on 15 May 2014, I consulted my lawyers and it was completely unambiguous and I could not not act.
It’s interesting to note that prior to Roy becoming a “celebrity” due to Mr Lee’s defamation lawsuit, Mr Lee was already very “interested” in Roy’s blog which talks a lot about CPF issues as well as Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds.
Prior to the lawsuit in May last year, one of the most popular articles on Roy’s blog concerned the CPF-HDB scheme (‘Truth Exposed: The Dirty CPF-HDB Scheme To Trick Singaporeans‘). It was published on 2 April 2014 and garnered over 400 comments.
It’s not known why Mr Lee was so interested to read about what a relatively unknown blogger at the time, who worked in the health industry, wrote about CPF issues.
The 3-day High Court hearing is to determine the amount of damages payable to Mr Lee by Roy.
Last November, the High Court allowed a summary judgement to be entered against Roy in the defamation suit filed by Mr Lee. Roy was sued by Mr Lee in the latter’s personal capacity for a series of articles which accused him of “criminally misappropriating” Singaporeans’ CPF monies. Mr Lee’s lawyers argued that by comparing the management of CPF monies by GIC with the corruption trial of the leaders of City Harvest Church, Roy had defamed Mr Lee. Mr Lee is the Chairman of GIC.
A petition for summary judgement was filed by Mr Lee’s lawyers last July, who argued that Roy has accepted and admitted to defaming Mr Lee in his earlier apology, and thus Roy has no defence to Mr Lee’s claims.
When Mr Lee filed his defamation lawsuit against Roy in May last year, Roy made an online plea for help in settling his legal fees through crowdfunding. Within a week, Roy had raised more than the targeted $70,000 for his legal defence against Mr Lee. It was later reported that Roy raised more than $110,000 in total.
Many people including Singaporean author Catherine Lim have criticized the lawsuit against Roy (‘Singapore author Catherine Lim pens open letter to PM Lee‘). She wrote, “While you (Mr Lee) see yourself as simply going by the rules, Singaporeans see you as the PAP juggernaut ready to mow down the little people in its path”.
Do you agree with Ms Lim?