Even if he was to “wait for another ten years”, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) “will not reply” to his queries, TOC chief editor Terry Xu told the court on Wednesday (2 December).
Mr Xu made his testimony during PM Lee’s lawyer Davinder Singh’s cross-examination on the third day of the trial of the defamation suit brought by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against him.
PM Lee’s defamation suit against Mr Xu pertains to an article published on TOC on 15 August last year titled “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”.
The article contained alleged defamatory statements made by PM Lee’s siblings Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling in relation to the 38 Oxley Road dispute.
Replying to Mr Singh’s question on whether Mr Xu had time to write to both PM Lee and PM Lee’s siblings on allegations pertaining to the Lee family feud before publishing the article, Mr Xu said: “I would like to state on record that PM Lee has never replied to my email ever since I have been in this profession.”
“My question is: you had time to write to both sides, do you agree?” Mr Singh prompted.
Mr Xu stressed that he has been practising journalism for nearly a decade.
“Well, you are not answering my question. Did you or did you not have time to write to both sides to say you intend to say this. Can you please let me know what your position is?” Mr Singh reiterated.
Mr Xu replied: “I have stated my position.”
Mr Singh then repeated his question, to which Mr Xu replied: “My position is that even if I wait for another ten years, he will not reply (to) my questions.”
When Mr Singh asked if Mr Xu had contacted Mr LHY and Dr LWL on their allegations, Mr Xu said: “The siblings have made their position very clear.”
Mr Singh continued to prompt an answer from Mr Xu on the matter, to which Mr Xu responded that he had “given this evidence yesterday — that it is only the siblings” who have provided ample “documentation of evidence of their allegations” compared to PM Lee, who he said “has simply somewhat cleared his name in the name of a parliamentary session”.
Justice Audrey Lim interjected at this point, asking Mr Xu: “Okay, so you did not write to the siblings to ask for their evidence, correct?”
“Yes, because my position is that they have already provided their side of the evidence from the Facebook pages,” said Mr Xu.
Mr Singh posited that Mr Xu did not write to the Lee siblings first as Mr Xu had “wanted to rush out this sensational piece”.
Mr Xu responded that at the point where the article was published in August 2019, it had been “two years since the so-called Lee’s family saga has actually transpired”.
“So if there is any attempt to ascertain the allegations made by the Lee siblings it would have been done two years before,” he added.
“But it would appear that what you did was using the opportunity of Ho Ching’s sharing an article you rushed to publish this?” Mr Singh asserted.
“I disagree,” said Mr Xu.
The hearing is adjourned until 2.30 pm on Thursday (3 December).