Singapore — Videos have been circulating online of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arriving at the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning (Oct 6) for the first day of his defamation suit against blogger Leong Sze Hian.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives at the Supreme Court on Tuesday (6 October) for the first day of his defamation lawsuit against blogger Leong Sze Hian. READ: https://yhoo.it/3iA4FF5(VIDEO: Wan Ting Koh / Yahoo News Singapore)
Posted by Yahoo Singapore on Monday, 5 October 2020
According to reports, all tickets for the public gallery of the court had been snapped up by 7 am. With safety restrictions still in place, only 50 people were allowed in the courtroom, with 20 spaces reserved for members of the public.
Mr Leong is being sued over a public Facebook post he had shared on his page on Nov 7, 2018, containing a link to an article by The Coverage, a Malaysian news site.
The article alleged that former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak signed “secret deals” with Mr Lee in exchange for assistance from Singapore banks in laundering money from 1MDB, the embattled sovereign wealth fund.
Two days after Mr Leong shared the article, he said that he was told by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to take down his post with the article within 6 hours, to which he complied. However, on Nov 12, he received a Letter of Demand from Mr Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier LLC, alleging that he had defamed Mr Lee and demanding a public apology as well as compensation for damages.
He wrote on his Facebook page, “the Letter of Demand also stated that I had posted TheCoverage.my article maliciously and to damage his client. I reject all these allegations categorically”.
Mr Leong also said a Writ of Summons and other court papers were posted on his front gate on Dec 4, 2018. He included photos of his gate, as well as the documents, in his Facebook post, which ended with “I turned 65 on 23rd of November and belong to the so-called “Merdeka” generation. I have fought for fundamental human rights in Singapore for the better part of my adult life in the last 2 decades or so, and the freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental of these human rights”.
The blogger is being represented by opposition Peoples Voice party leader Lim Tean. In a Facebook post on Monday (Oct 6), he characterised the lawsuit as “One Vs Five!”
He wrote: “In addition to dealing with police harassment on the eve of a big trial, I will be up against 5 lawyers representing Lee Hsien Loong in his defamation suit against Leong Sze Hian … In other words, I will be flying solo for Leong Sze Hian.”
Mr Lee’s lawyers are Davinder Singh S/O Amar Singh, Lin Xianyang Timothy, Fong Cheng Yee David, Darveenia Rajula Rajah and Shannon Valencia Peh. They are all from Davinder Singh Chambers LLC, which was set up in 2019.
In an unrelated matter, Mr Lim was arrested in his office on Friday (Oct 2) for suspected criminal breach of trust under the Penal Code. He is also being investigated for an alleged offence of unlawful stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act. /TISG