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Crowdfunding as the new activism?

Roy Yi Li Ngerng raises S$100,000 in a week




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Singapore—On the heels of blogger Leong Sze Hian’s success in raising funds to pay damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong comes the case of activist Roy Yi Li Ngerng.

Donors have been contributing generously to him, too, just as they did to Mr Leong.

In only 11 days, Mr Leong raised the S$133,000 the High Court awarded in damages to PM Lee. Over 2,000 donors contributed to him.

Mr Ngering has been no less successful.

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In just a week, he crossed the S$100,000 mark,

Commenting on the crowdfunding success, Mr Ngerng said, “Protests are not allowed in Singapore but the fact that Leong Sze Hian was able to raise that amount of money to pay off our Prime Minister sends a strong signal that Singaporeans no longer tolerate our government’s abuse of the law to go against those who dare speak up.”

More than five years ago, Mr Ngerng, now based in Taiwan, was required to pay PM Lee S$150,000 in damages. He has been paying $100 monthly from his income for the last five years and has been able to pay $6,000 in all so far.

But starting from this month, he will need to pay S$1,000 a month, which is almost half of his salary.

In May 2014, PM Lee sued him over an article he wrote on his blog: The Heart Truths. In December 2015, the activist was ordered to pay the damages because of a blog post questioning the Government’s management of the Central Provident Fund.

Mr Ngerng had worked at a hospital in Singapore but lost his job the month after the lawsuit was filed.

He started crowdfunding, at the urging of friends and supporters who had seen people give to Leong Sze Hian’s cause, on Apr 7, and a week later, on April 13, the amounts given by donors had passed the S$100,000 mark.

In his latest update on Tuesday evening, he wrote that S$111,605.45 or 77.5 per cent of the amount needed, had been raised.

In a Facebook post, the activist expressed thanks to all the donors, who have given amounts ranging from S$0.05 to S$3,000.

He noted that donors had come from “all walks of life”—some of them unemployed or retirees. A domestic helper from the Philippines had also made a $20 donation to Mr Ngerng, which his father pointed out was a whole day’s pay for her. A security officer and a Grab driver are also among Mr Ngerng’s donors.

He wrote in an Apr 13 Facebook post, “I just want to say thank you so much to you for contributing in spite of your circumstances.

“No job is too small, no matter what you do – don’t let people tell you it is too small. And I hope that you know that even by supporting this campaign with a dollar, or less, that it is significant. You are significant.”

He added that friends had told him that “these last few years have changed things, people have become stronger, more vocal, and look at what you are doing – coming together to support me, this crowdfunding movement, to support Sze Hian.”

Mr Ngerng wrote that things feel different now than when he was sued seven years ago. “I now sense that when people are doing it, supporting this crowdfunding, you recognise that your support takes on a stronger meaning. It is a conscious decision to take action. And it is very powerful.”


Read also:  Leong Sze Hian hopes this is last time Gov’t sues citizens for defamation

Leong Sze Hian hopes this is last time Gov’t sues citizens for defamation

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