As of 9.38pm on Saturday, Mr Leong Sze Hian has managed to raise the full sum of S$262,327 to pay off the Singapore Prime Minister for the damages, legal cost and disbursement in a defamation suit filed by the latter — two days ahead of the deadline for payment set by Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyers.
On 10 May, the High Court granted the full claim of legal cost and disbursement, totalling S$129,327 to PM Lee. This is on top of the S$133,000 awarded to PM Lee in March this year for purpose of damages.
“Having considered the arguments of the parties, the Court is satisfied that the appropriate costs payable by the Defendant is as follows: Costs of $50,000 to the Plaintiff plus disbursements claimed of $79,327.22.” wrote the court in a letter addressed to both parties on Monday (10 May).
Subsequently on 12 May, lawyers for PM Lee gave a deadline of 17 May for Mr Leong Sze Hian to pay up the full $262,357 for the damages, cost and disbursements ordered by the court in the defamation suit between the two.
Prior to the lawyers’ announcement of the deadline, Mr Leong managed to raise $65,032 over the span of 26 days. This meant that he had to raise a sum of S$64,295 within the next five days.
Mr Leong had previously successfully raised the full damage of S$133,000 awarded to PM Lee through a crowd funding campaign in 11 days.
For unknown reasons, Mr Leong was barred by Facebook from sharing links on his Facebook page and to other FB groups till 18 May. No report was being made by the media on the deadline given by the Prime Minister as well.
Fortunately, he has had support from friends and party members to share updates on the status of the crowd funding via various Facebook groups and social messaging platforms on a regular basis over the past few days.
In his Facebook post announcing the success of his fundraising, Mr Leong wrote: “I am very very grateful for your support, concern and encouragement, over these two and a half years!”
Roy Ngerng, blogger and activist who had also been sued by PM Lee in the past, commented on the success and wrote, “You are amazing, Singaporeans, we have just conducted a 2-month long resistance to stand by the people who have spoken up for us.”
Background to Leong’s defamation case
Mr Leong was sued by PM Lee in 2018 for defamation over a Facebook share of an article alleging PM Lee’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal.
The blogger did not attach or insert any commentary at the time he shared the article.
Mr Leong took down the article at 7.30 am on 10 November 2018 after being instructed by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to do so a day prior.
Prior to his removal of the post on 10 November, the court noted that Mr Leong’s article had garnered “22 ‘reactions’, five ‘comments’, and 18 ‘shares’”.
Just last month, the High Court ordered Mr Leong 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 another blogger, Roy Ngerng’s case.
Justice Aedit found that the defamatory statement in the article shared by Mr Leong was worse compared to allegations made in Mr Ngerng’s case.
On 23 Apr, Mr Leong decided not to appeal against the High Court judgement in the case, as there is “no greater verdict” than that of the people of Singapore.
In a statement released through his lawyer Lim Tean’s firm Carson Law Chambers on Friday (23 Apr), Mr Leong said that the love and support he received from the people of Singapore “is far more valuable” to him than any possible successful appeal to a higher court.