PM Lee’s comments came in response to accusations that he was singling out writer and financial adviser Leong Sze Hian for his role as a “staunch Government critic” by suing him for defamation.
PM Lee added that Mr Leong was not the most vocal nor most effective critic of the Singapore Government.
“I have explained to you how I have – the Government has, and so have I – dealt with repeated, multiple, prolonged onslaught of criticism from your client,” said Mr Lee to Mr Leong’s lawyer Lim Tean.
Mr Lim, who is also an opposition politician, accused Mr Lee of picking on Mr Leong among “thousands of others” who shared an allegedly defamatory article. Questioning PM Lee for over three hours, he claimed PM Lee sued Mr Leong “to frighten others”.
“I did not do that,” said Mr Lee.
“The defendant has been a thorn in our side in a small way for a very long time. He has … criticised many Government matters, Central Provident Fund matters, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation matters regularly on many forums … as he is entitled to”, said PM Lee, according to a CNA report.
“And our answer to that is – in the end, put it to the test. The test of the ballot. Persuade Singaporeans, see if they support you, or the Government. And indeed it was put to the test in the recent General Election: When the defendant and yourself contested in Jalan Besar GRC and won 35 per cent of the vote. So that’s the answer”, he added.
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).
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. /TISG