Blogger Roy Ngerng has completed his payment of S$150,000 in damages owed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after losing the latter’s defamation suit, with the majority of the sum collected from crowdfunding.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (4 May), Mr Ngerng posted the receipt of payment from PM Lee’s lawyers at Davinder Singh LLC, marking the end of the defamation suit and “the harassment” faced by the blogger.
“I am not sure if the PAP will continue to find other excuses to persecute me, but thank you for having my back! I hope our success in this crowdfunding movement will inspire us to keep speaking up for the people who speak up for us, and for one another!” said Mr Ngerng, addressing those who supported his crowdfunding initiative.
“You have used each and every cent and dollar to directly send a message to Hsien Loong that you disagree with his behavior. This is what he will see when he sees the S$143,000 in his bank account!
“It is not just the damages he asked for. It is a statement that each of you are sending, and I am glad to have helped you carry it to him,” he said.
The blogger, who is currently based in Taiwan, said that he will be checking his accounts again to see if there are any additional funds that have been transferred to him.
Mr Ngerng added that he will post an update accordingly on Thursday regarding the excess funds.
He reiterated that he is “currently inclined” to channel the extra funds to veteran blogger Leong Sze Hian and TOC editor-in-chief Terry Xu, both of whom have been sued for defamation by PM Lee.
A cursory search on Google News as of 6.14 pm on Wednesday showed that only The Straits Times has reported on Mr Ngerng paying off the entirety of damages demanded by PM Lee.
At the time of writing, no reports from other mainstream media outlets have been spotted.
Previously, coverage on both Mr Ngerng’s and Mr Leong’s successful crowdfunding efforts by Singapore’s mainstream media platforms was absent throughout, even when the former had managed to raise the full sum of damages he was ordered to pay to PM Lee in over eight days.
Mr Ngerng, a blogger and activist, announced on 16 Apr on his Facebook page that he had 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.
In Mr Leong’s case, the mainstream media had followed the court proceedings closely and had widely reported on the court order for the blogger to pay PM Lee S$133,000 in damages.
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.
Background of Roy Ngerng’s defamation suit
Mr Ngerng was sued by PM Lee in 2014 over an article that he wrote on his blog, “The Heart Truths”.
The blog post, which was published in May 2014, had compared the Government’s usage of CPF monies to the City Harvest Church leaders’ alleged misuse of church funds.
On 17 Dec 2015, the Supreme Court ordered Mr Ngerng to pay S$150,000 in damages to PM 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.
Previously, Mr Ngerng said that having owed PM Lee a sum of S$144,000, he would have to continue his payment via instalments for the next 12 years until 2033 based on the outstanding sum at the time.
Mr Ngerng, who left Singapore because he could not find a job anymore, notes that the monthly installment of S$1000 is nearly half of his monthly salary.
He shared that he revived his fundraising campaign after being encouraged by his friends and supporters to help him pay off the outstanding amount and remove him from the financial burden that has been hanging over his head since 2016.