Socio-political activist and blogger Roy Ngerng has apologised to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the start of a 3-day hearing to assess how much damages he has to pay PM Lee.
“I am sorry. I had no intent to defame you.”
Ngerng was found guilty of defaming PM Lee, by means of several posts on his blog The Heart Truths.
The posts were considered to have given the impression that Mr Lee was misappropriating CPF funds.
Lawyers acting on behalf of PM Lee said,
“From the very first, the defendant set out to wound. He knowingly and maliciously published a false and vicious libel against the plaintiff to inflict maximum injury. He then cynically capitalised on, and continues to exploit, that libel and the ensuing lawsuit to promote himself as a champion of free speech.”
“He would say one thing but do another: He publicly apologised for the libel but he continued to defame the plaintff; he undertook not to repeat the libel but broke his promise; and he claims that he is sincere about wanting to resolve matters but he continues to aggravate this injury.”
PM Lee’s lawyers have called for a very high award of damages, including aggravated damages, considering the “malice and continuous attacks” on Ngerng’s part.
“Such an allegation undermines the plaintiff’s ability to lead the country, sustain the confidence of the electorate and discharge his functions as Prime Minister and Chairman of GIC. The defendant’s allegations, unless challenged head-on, demolished in a court of law and met with a substantial award of damages, would seriously erode the plaintiff’s reputation and moral authority.”
Leading up to the this summary judgment hearing, Mr Ngerng has been ordered to pay S$29,000 to PM Lee for legal fees and related expenses.
Ngerng’s previous application for a Queen’s Counsel to represent him was also rejected, with the court ruling that the appointed QC had no expertise in Singapore-specific defamation issues.
He had to pay S$6000 for the dismissed application.