Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyer, Davinder Singh, in a defamation suit against writer and financial adviser Leong Sze Hian, criticised the latter for not taking to the witness stand for cross-examination.
Mr Leong’s lawyer Lim Tean stated on the second day of a four-day defamation trial that the defence was “very satisfied we have sufficient admissions to meet our case, and that Mr Leong cannot assist with the issue further.
Calling Mr Leong’s decision “deeply disappointing”, Mr Davinder Singh said: “We have a situation where the plaintiff (PM Lee) has turned up in court and gone into the stand, unafraid of any questions and ready to defend his position.”
He added that Mr Leong “has turned tail and fled” even though he had alleged that PM Lee had abused the “process of court.”
“The real reason is that he knows, that he is unable to defend what he said in his affidavits and is afraid of the truth”, said Mr Davinder.
Addressing Justice Aedit Abdullah, Mr Davinder Singh said: “From the very first, he made the most serious allegations against the plaintiff. Not just those in the offending words but of abuse of process, of having a collateral purpose, of stifling freedom of expression and speech, of wanting to send a message to the population that the Government will not tolerate criticism, on picking on him, and of running a case of malice and aggravation without basis.”
Because Mr Leong has refused to take the stand, this means there will not be any more hearings for the rest of the week and all parties will file written submissions and return to court on Nov 30 for oral arguments to determine liability.
Mr Leong, a blogger and financial adviser, is being sued by Mr Lee for defamation over a Facebook post Mr Leong made in November 2018, sharing an article by Malaysian website The Coverage.
The article, which was originally published on the States Times Review, contained allegedly libellous material. It claimed that Mr Lee had helped former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak launder money in relation to corruption-mired Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). /TISG