Prominent blogger and ex-President of human rights NGO Maruah, Leong Sze Hian, has confirmed that he was rejected from bailing The Online Citizen (TOC) editor Terry Xu out after Xu was charged in court this morning, due to his own ongoing court case involving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Xu, who is facing a lawsuit for publishing an article that made allegations of corruption against prominent politicians, was charged this morning with one count of criminal defamation. Yesterday, Xu refused to sign the charge sheet “as there was nothing to indicate the signature was meant to acknowledge the charge and not an admission of guilt.”
Local activist and and filmmaker Lynn Lee has since reported on Facebook that a pre-trial conference has been set for 8 Jan 2019 and that bail for Xu was set for $5,000.
Leong Sze Hian has since told The Independent that he wanted to post bail for Xu but was rejected from being the bailor due to his own ongoing court case. In a statement to this publication, Leong said:
“Leong Sze Hian has just been rejected as the bailor because he has “pending court case” (Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suing him for defamation) for Terry Xu who was charged in court this morning for criminal defamation.”
Terry Xu confirmed to this publication that it is true that Leong was barred from posting bail for him. He said, however, that “no reason was given” as to why Leong was stopped from bailing him out.
PM Lee commenced legal proceedings against Leong for defamation, after Leong shared an article on his Facebook page that alleged that the head of government helped launder 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
Leong, who earlier rejected the notion that he deliberately set out to malign the PM with malicious intent, revealed yesterday that he will be representing himself in the court case.
Meanwhile, several local activists like Lynn Lee, Kirsten Han, and Roy Ngerng among others are standing in support with Xu.
One activist, community worker Jolovan Wham, shared this picture of himself at the state courts, holding a sheet of paper that asks the authorities to drop the charges against Xu and the writer of the contentious article. The post has received over 170 reactions so far: