Blogger and social activist Roy Ngerng has accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary has been accused of lying in a bid to attack his character. He has also accused Singapore’s state media of spreading such lies without checking its facts.
This follows reports in the Straits Times, and Today newspaper, which quote press secretary Chang Li Lin as saying that Ngerng did not want to take the stand in yesterday’s summary judgment hearing (12Jan).
Ms Chang added the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was ready to be cross-examined.
Ngerng says he had instructed his lawyer. M Ravi, that he was ready to be cross-examined, and was also ready to cross-examine the prime minister.
M Ravi echoed the statement, and said that Ms Chang’s statement was plain “silly”.
Both Ngerng and his M Ravi have hit back at the media reports, and published their own accounts of the hearing.
These are published in full below.
ROY NGERNG: The Singapore Prime Minister’s Press Secretary and State-Controlled Media Lied about What My Lawyer and I Said
The prime minister’s press secretary Chang Li Lin and state-controlled media lied about what my lawyer and I said at the pre-trial conference today.
I went to court today. The prime minister wanted the judge to ask me to pay for his legal fees for his lawyers. At the hearing in the morning, the judge asked me to pay $20,000 and an additional $9,000 in filing fees.
This is different from the actual damages that I would have to pay the prime minister himself. The prime minister has applied to ask me to pay at least $250,000 to him.
Today, the pre-trial conference was also held to decide on when the dates for the hearing on the damages will be.
However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary Chang Li Lin lied about what my lawyer and I said.
The state-controlled media also lied by carrying her statement.
“Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined,” Ms Chang said.
“The judge directed his lawyer to confirm whether he would be giving evidence by 30 January 2015.
“PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court,” state-controlled media also reported.
However, this is not true.
Ms Chang and the state-controlled media lied.
I have never said that I do not want to be cross-examined.
In fact, I have told my lawyer that I am ready to be cross-examined and to also cross-examine the prime minister.
Not only that, Ms Chang also changed her initial statement.
In her initial statement, she said, “PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has maintained right from the beginning.”
However, she later changed the statement to say, “PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court.”
Why did Ms Chang initially said that the prime minister was ready to be cross-examined “right from the beginning” to “a position he has earlier communicated to the Court”?
So, he did not actually agree to be cross-examined “right from the beginning”?
Moreover, why did Ms Chang and the state-controlled media put words into my mouth?
In fact, I have told the media who attended today’s hearing and pre-trial conference that I am ready to be cross-examined.
The Straits Times, Today and Zaobao were there today. So were freer and more respectable media AFP and The Online Citizen.
The state-controlled media were there today but why did they carry an inaccurate statement by the prime minister’s secretary?
This is not the first time that the state-controlled media has put words into my mouth and attempted to put me in a bad light.
Last year, after my pre-trial conference on 17 July, The Straits Times carried an article and said, “I will continue writing about CPF in the meantime, and (Mr Ravi and I) will fight against summary judgment, to have a full-blown trial.”
However, I have never said the phrased, “full-blown trial”.
Why did the state-controlled media want to paint me in a bad light?
Moreover, why is the prime minister’s press secretary sending out a statement for the prime minister when the prime minister has taken out the defamation suit against me on his personal basis?
Why is he using state resources to speak on his behalf?
Does the prime minister not have his own mouth or his own hand? Must he always get someone else to do his dirty work?
All this time, the prime minister has the bravado to sue me but he has never had the guts to face me directly in court.
And now, he does not even have the balls to speak out on his own and is using state resources to speak up for him instead.
But this is not the first time that the prime minister’s press secretary is doing this.
Last year, when The Economist wrote an article about me, Ms Chang also wrote to rebut The Economist on 19 June.
“You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng,” Ms Chang said, referring to The Economist.
“This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation,” she added.
“This was a grave and deliberate defamation, whether it occurred online or in the traditional media being immaterial.”
Later, on 17 July, she also said, “Mr Roy Ngerng has admitted that he has falsely defamed PM.”
Not only that, the government has also constantly used state resources to speak up for the prime minister.
Also, when well-known local critic Catherine Lim spoke up for me, Consul-General of Singapore in Hong Kong Jacky Foo rebutted her and said, “Mr Lee acted because the Government prizes integrity as the ultimate source of the trust it enjoys. A leader who does nothing when he is accused of criminally misappropriating monies from the state pension system must engender mistrust in his honesty and leadership.”
When I was sacked from my job at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the Ministry of Health also said, “MOH supports TTSH’s decision as Mr Ngerng’s actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with the values and standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees.”
However, when the government was called out for using state resources to speak up for the prime minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said,” When aspersions are cast on the integrity of the Prime Minister and his Government’s policies, an official reply from the PM’s press secretary is completely in order. This is no different from what press secretaries in most other Governments do.
“Likewise, when a foreign newspaper carries an article with misrepresentations about Singapore, it is important that our diplomatic representative defend Singapore’s interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view. Our Consul-General in Hong Kong did just that when he responded to the South China Morning Post article.”
However, when the prime minister’s press secretary would now carry a statement solely on the defamation hearing today, is his press secretary replying because of the “integrity of the Prime Minister and his Government’s policies”?
Evidently, this is not.
Second, is the press secretary “defend(ing) Singapore’s interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view”?
Clearly, she did not.
Ms Chang lied. The prime minister’s press secretary lied.
She did not even provide a” balanced” view.
The state-controlled media also did not provide a “balanced” view.
The state-controlled media lied.
In addition, when I submitted my affidavit last year for the summary judgment, none of the state-controlled media wanted to report my affidavit but they would report on both the prime minister’s affidavit.
When I emailed them to ask to know why, none of them had the guts to respond to me.
I am appalled that the prime minister’s press secretary and state-controlled media would lie just to malign me.
They are also not “balanced” and have misrepresented the truth.
Also, it is very clear now that the prime minister is using state resources for his own personal uses.
The press secretary has released a statement solely on the defamation suit, solely for the prime minister’s personal agenda.
It is disgusting how the government would stoop so low to hurt me.
Ngerng’s Lawyer M Ravi: Dear Prime Minister Press Secretary,
You are reported to have issued a statement today stating inter alia that “Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined. The judge directed his lawyer to confirm this by 30 January 2015. PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has maintained right from the beginning.”
This is an inaccurate statement, and as I am the lawyer referred to and was present and you were not present it appears you have been misinformed.
On the issue of Mr. Ngern’s (my client’s) giving evidence my recollection is that I said, when asked, I would take instructions. This is common and normal practice when a question as to a client’s current intention is asked by the Court. It means that a lawyer will always first verify whether his client will or will not be taking certain action. It carries no assertion either way.
If my instructions had been that my client did not wish to give evidence and I had indeed conveyed that fact to the Court, it would have been illogical for the learned Judge to have asked me to confirm this by 30 January 2015. This highlights the absurdity of your statement.
In any event being cross examined is not a matter of choice. The issue is whether the client chooses to give evidence. If he does, he will be liable to cross examination . If he does not, he will not. Your statement that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined is therefore silly.
Obviously you did not intend to make this error. Indeed, it is inconceivable that you would wish, as the Prime Minister’s press secretary to be on record as misrepresenting the facts, however innocently.
The correct position is that Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that he would be taking instructions on whether Mr Ngerng would be giving evidence.
Incidentally, as this is purportedly a private law suit brought by the Prime Minister in his personal capacity, can you explain why you as a Civil Servant holding the official title of Press Secretary to the Prime Minister would be issuing press releases on behalf of a private litigant? I ask this in all earnestness in order to understand whether you intend me to understand that the real Plaintiff is the Prime Minister in his capacity as Prime Minister.