Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is suing socio-political activist Leong Sze Hian for defamation, after he shared an article from Malaysian website The Coverage on his Facebook page.
The article, titled “Breaking News: Singapore Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target – Najib signed several unfair…”, was shared by Leong on 7 Nov this year.
The article, which alleges that PM Lee was involved in money-laundering activities with former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, was originally published on the now-defunct States Times Review.
Leong removed the post 3 days later, after it had been shared 18 times.
PM Lee’s lawyers at Drew & Napier sent Leong a letter on 12 Nov demanding a public apology and compensation for damages.
The lawyers, led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, said in the letter that the post was published by Leong “maliciously and to damage our client”.
Stated in the letter:
“Those allegations are false and baseless and constitute a very serious libel against our client, and disparage and impugn his character, credit and integrity.”
The letter also stated that PM Lee had been “gravely injured in his character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt.”
Leong did not comply with the letter of demand, and hence the commencement of the defamation lawsuit.
This lawsuit follows a string of criminal defamation charges against online news websites.
Last month, editor of The Online Citizen Terry Xu had his home raided and computers confiscated over an alleged defamatory letter published on the website.
Police investigations into States Times Review and censorship of the website in Singapore following a criminal defamation police report filed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore subsequently led to the closure of the website by editor Alex Tan.