Coverage by Singapore’s mainstream media platforms on the successful crowdfunding efforts of bloggers Leong Sze Hian and Roy Ngerng continues to be absent, even as the latter has managed to raise the full sum of damages he was ordered to pay to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in over eight days.
Mr Ngerng, a blogger and activist, announced yesterday afternoon on his Facebook page that he raised S$144,389.14 from over 2,100 donors.
Mr Leong, a veteran blogger and financial adviser had earlier managed to raise over S$133,000 over 11 days on 4 Apr, from over 2,000 individuals to pay damages to PM Lee after losing a libel suit initiated by PM Lee against him.
Mr Ngerng has also posted today that he will be making a lump sum payment of S$143,000 to PM Lee.
He has shared that the amount raised in excess of the sum will be passed over to Mr Leong, who is contending with a possible bill of over S$129,000 from PM Lee for legal costs and disbursements.
A cursory search on Google as of Saturday afternoon (17 Apr) indicated that to date, no articles on Mr Ngerng’s crowdfunding process have appeared from local mainstream media outlets such as CNA, The Straits Times and TODAY.
Not to mention that there has yet been any report regarding Mr Leong’s crowdfunding success close to two weeks ago, although the MSM had followed the court proceedings closely and had widely reported on the court order for the blogger to pay S$133,000 in damages.
The crowdfunding success by Mr Ngerng and Mr Leong has garnered widespread attention from netizens and the international press, spurring posts of congratulations and commentary articles.
So far, international media such as Bloomberg, Reuters and South China Morning Post have reported on the crowdfunding success made by the two bloggers along with regional papers around the world.
Last year, Singapore reached an all-time low rank of 158 in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
According to Bloomberg, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) has declined to comment on the matter of Mr Leong. One would surmise the same approach will be taken for Mr Roy’s success in crowdfunding.
Background of lawsuits
Mr Ngerng was sued by Mr Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, over an article that he wrote on his blog, “The Heart Truths”.
The blog post, published in May 2014, compared the Government’s usage of CPF monies to the City Harvest Church leaders’ alleged misuse of church funds.
On 17 December 2015, the Supreme Court ordered Mr Ngerng to pay S$150,000 in damages to Mr Lee for defaming and accusing him of misappropriating government funds. This comprises S$100,000 in general damages and S$50,000 in aggravated damages.
In a settlement deal with PM Lee, Mr Ngerng would pay S$100 a month for five years and S$1,000 a month subsequently in damages awarded until the full sum of S$150,000 is paid. If he had not been able to raise the full sum, he would have to continue his payment via instalments for the next 12 years, until 2033.
Mr Leong was sued by PM Lee for defamation over a Facebook share of an article in 2018.
Just last month, the High Court ordered Mr Leong Sze Hian to pay PM Lee S$133,000 for defamation, which includes S$100,000 in general damages and S$33,000 in aggravated damages.
The amount of damages was made in reference to Mr Ngerng’s case.
Justice Aedit Abdullah in his judgement found that the defamatory statement in the article shared by Mr Leong was worse compared to allegations made in Mr Ngerng’s case.