Lim Tean calls Leong Sze Hian Singapore’s Rosa Parks

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Photo: Facebook screengrab/Lim Tean

In a speech at an Abuse of Process rally on Saturday, January 26, Lim Tean said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Leong Sze Hian is our Rosa Parks.” He said this in reference to the blogger’s lawsuit against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Rosa Parks was an African-American woman who was called “the mother of the freedom movement” and “the first lady of civil rights” by the US Congress. Parks first came into the public eye in the United States in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white man, despite being commanded to do so by the bus driver, when the white section was fully occupied.

Parks was arrested for civil disobedience, and later became an important figure in the fight against segregation in the US. Her fight for racial equality later won her a Nobel Peace Prize.

Leong Sze Hian is a well-known Singaporean writer and blogger who is now facing a lawsuit from the Prime Minister for sharing a reportedly defamatory article from The Coverage, a Malaysian news site, on November 8, 2018.

Lim alleges that the Prime Minister abused the process of the court when he filed charges against Leong.

Two days after Leong shared the article, he said that he was told by Singapore’s IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) to take down his post with the article within 6 hours, to which he complied. But on November 12, he received a Letter of Demand from Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier LLC, alleging that Leong had defamed PM Lee and demanding a public apology as well as compensation for damages.

Leong wrote on his Facebook page, “the Letter of Demand also stated that I had posted TheCoverage.my article maliciously and to damage his client. I reject all these allegations categorically.”

He also said that a Writ of Summons and other court papers were posted on his front gate on December 4. Leong included photos of his gate, as well as the documents, on his post, which ended with “I turned 65 on 23rd of November and belong to the so-called “Merdeka” generation. I have fought for fundamental human rights in Singapore for the better part of my adult life in the last 2 decades or so, and the freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental of these human rights.”

At the rally, Lim, who is representing Leong in his case against the Prime Minister, explained why he compared the blogger with Rosa Parks. “What (Leong) is doing today in Singapore is what no one has ever done before, and it is to stand up to a powerful figure and tell that person enough is enough. I’m not going to be railroaded, I am going to stand my ground, I am going to defend myself.

Lee Hsien Loong may fire volley after volley against (Leong) Sze Hian, but I can assure (PM Lee) he will be receiving two volleys for every volley he fires until the fateful day when all of us will meet in court and the truth will emerge.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday morning, the day after the rally, Lim called the assembly a great success and said that others have encouraged him to hold more rallies in order to bring significant issues to public attention.

“Thank you for making the rally a great success. It was heartening to see so many of you turn up. It shows that Singaporeans will no longer blindly obey the dictates of the PAP government and that they demand greater accountability and a greater say in the issues which affect their lives and their family.

Many of you came up to me and suggested that I organise more rallies in the coming months to highlight important issues. I will certainly do so under the auspices of Peoples Voice and I shall also endeavour to work closely with the other Opposition Parties to coordinate our efforts in this regard.”

Read related: Leong Sze Hian applies to strike out PM Lee’s defamation claim “on the grounds that it is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious”

Leong Sze Hian applies to strike out PM Lee’s defamation claim “on the grounds that it is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious”

Leong Sze Hian applies to strike out PM Lee’s defamation claim “on the grounds that it is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious”