Singapore — After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was awarded on Wednesday (Sept 1) $210,000 in damages in his defamation suit against Mr Terry Xu, the editor-in-chief of The Online Citizen, a crowdfunding campaign was launch to help raise the needed amount.
Mr Xu, along with his lawyer, Mr Lim Tean, the founding leader of the People’s Voice party, appealed over social media for netizens to come to the aid of Mr Xu.
By the second day of crowdfunding, Thursday (Sept 2), Mr Xu said in a Facebook post that the amount of S$64,825.15 had already been raised, with over 607 people donated.
This is, after all, not unprecedented. Earlier this year, Mr Lim made a similar appeal on behalf of blogger and financier Loong Sze Hian, whom the opposition leader also represented in a lawsuit filed by the Prime Minister.
Mr Leong was able to raise S$262,000 through crowdfunding to pay PM Lee damages, legal costs and disbursements, with two days to spare in the campaign.
Also in May, another blogger, Mr Roy Ngerng, was able to raise the amount of $144,000 that he needed to pay in his defamation suit filed by the Prime Minister.
One minute before midnight on Thursday (Sept 2), Mr Xu wrote “As of 23:59 hrs of 2 Sept (Thursday), you have helped to raise S$64,825.15.
This is 30.87% of the S$210,000 that the Prime Minister had been awarded. The legal cost to be paid to the PM’s lawyers will be determined at a later date, which is likely to run up to hundred of thousands.”
He added that the donations that have come in a range between S$0.01 to S$3,333.
“It does not matter how much you contribute, it is the effort and thought that matters (of course the more the merrier. ^^),” the TOC chief added.
Mr Lim also lauded the early success of the crowdfunding effort, calling it “an incredible rate of contributions, and it shows that Singaporeans are willing to pay any price to build a freer and better society for themselves and their next generation.
It shows that draconian defamation laws have no place in a modern, progressive society, which unfortunately Singapore is not at this point in time. But it is an aspiration we have to work towards. And Terry and TOC are our champions in this battle,” he wrote in a Facebook post published earlier on Thursday night.
The suit against Mr Xu was filed by the Prime Minister two years ago, after an article with the headline “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members” was published on the TOC website and Facebook page on Aug 15, 2019.
The article mentioned the rift between PM Lee and his siblings, the will of their father the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and the family property at 38 Oxley Road.
On Wednesday, Justice Audrey Lim handed down her decision in the lawsuit, awarding PM Lee damages totalling $210,000— $160,000 in damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages— against Mr Xu and the writer of the article. /TISG
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