Singapore—Blogger Leong Sze Hian, whose legal and financial issues are not quite over, posted an excerpt of his recent defamation trial while appealing to the public to support his cause afresh.
Earlier this month, it took only 11 days for Mr Leong to raise the S$133,000 the High Court awarded as damages to PM Lee from a 2018 defamation suit. Over 2,000 donors chipped in.
He was even quoted in an international magazine as saying he was glad that the “two-year ordeal” was over.
However, on Apr 15, he took to Facebook to say that a fresh round of crowdfunding is now needed, as Prime Minister Lee is seeking legal costs (S$50,000) and disbursements (S$79,322.22) amounting to almost S$130,000 for the defamation case.
Mr Leong was sued by the Prime Minister for sharing an article from The Coverage, a Malaysian news site, on Nov 8, 2018.
Five days into his new crowdfunding endeavor, he has raised S$35,015, with 536 people donating various amounts, including PM Lee’s own brother, Mr Lee Hsien Yang.
The younger Mr Lee sent Mr Leong a supportive message that read: “I was happy to be one of the many donors who came forward to help Leong to pay off the damages awarded by the court. It is very significant so many Singaporeans came forward to express their support.”
On Tuesday, Apr 20, he took to Facebook to share excerpts from the court transcripts of the first day of his trial, on Oct 6, 2020.
The excerpts were posted along with an illustration of his lawyer, Mr Lim Tean, asking questions of PM Lee.
The speech bubble coming from PM Lee’s mouth in the drawing reads, “The defendant has been a thorn in our side in a small way for a very long time.”
The excerpt showed that Mr Lim had asked PM Lee if he had sent a letter of demand to Mr Alex Tan of the States Times Review (STR) or to The Coverage, whose article Mr Leong had shared.
The article in The Coverage was taken from the STR site, owned by Mr Tan, who is based in Australia.
PM Lee answered “No” to both questions.
Mr Lim then said, “So you decided to allow the perpetrators of this defamation to go scot-free?”
PM Lee answered that STR and The Coverage were “were beyond our reach outside the jurisdiction”.
Mr Lim then asked him, “How can they be beyond your reach, Mr Lee, when in the TOC case against this Malaysian writer, you had the wherewithal to serve the writ of summons out of jurisdiction on her?”
The Prime Minister answered, “Well, in the TOC case, I’m not a lawyer, but the publication was in Singapore and the case is in Singapore.”
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