Following the news of veteran Singaporean blogger’s Leong Sze Hian defence and countersuit against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s most prominent mainstream news outlets appear to be limiting their circulation of the news as Channel NewsAsia (CNA) and The Straits Times (ST) did not share their articles regarding the issue on their Facebook pages where most of the readers would comment on.
However, both CNA and ST had shared the news of the countersuit on Twitter, linking to their respective articles on the issue:
Furthermore, it also appears that both CNA and ST had omitted any mention of PM Lee’s younger brother Lee Hsien Yang’s contribution to Mr Leong’s legal funds.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang had confirmed with TOC on Wednesday (26 Dec) that he has contributed to the fund, he did not disclose the amount he had given.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his sister Dr Lee Weiling issued a joint statement in June last year, alleging that PM Lee had abused his powers as a Prime Minister for his own personal gain. The Lee siblings had also criticised PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching’s role in the alleged abuse of power in their joint statement.
Mr Leong is being sued by PM Lee over a post he shared on his Facebook profile on 7 Nov.
The allegedly defamatory post in question was a post from Malaysia site, TheCoverage.my which quoted content originating from States Times Review (STR) (“Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target”), published on 5 Nov.
The post claimed that the editor-in-chief of investigative journalism platform Sarawak Report (SR) Clare Rewcastle-Brown pinpointed Singapore as “one of the key investigation targets, alongside Switzerland and United States” in the 1MDB scandal during an interview with Malaysian media.
The claim was subsequently rebuked by SR as “misleading” and “erroneous”, and a request was made to STR to “correct the false claim.”
In response, Mr Leong, who will be represented by lawyer and People’s Voice Party founder Lim Tean, filed a countersuit against the PM, citing the latter’s abuse of the court process via civil action.
A statement from the Carson Law Chambers reads: “Our client invites the court to find that the initiating and pursuit of an unnecessary claim for libel must, therefore, be in order to try to obtain an impermissible collateral advantage, and believes its purpose is to chill freedom of expression ahead of both the trial of Najib Razak and a likely General Election in Singapore next year.”
Mr Leong added that he had suffered “damage to his reputation” through the civil suit brought against him by PM Lee, and is also seeking similar damages as a result, in the event that he succeeds in his counterclaim.
Touching on his counter-suit against PM Lee, Mr Leong said that while the target amount will not be enough to pay for his legal fees, he strongly believes that “Singaporeans must let our overpaid Ministers know once and for all, that it does not pay to sue ordinary citizens for defamation.”
“Singaporeans and their children, and their children’s children, will never have to fear being sued, for exercising their rights of freedom of expression,” said Mr Leong.
Members of the public who intend to contribute to Mr Leong’s legal fund may do so through the following channels:
Name of account: Leong Sze Hian
POSB Savings: 064064070
Paypal: [email protected]