Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is set to appear in two libel trials on Monday (Nov 30).
The trials, separately, are against Terry Xu And Leong Sze Hian.
In a Facebook post on Friday (Nov 27), Lim Tean, the lawyer representing both Mr Leong and Mr Xu wrote: “All of you know that in early October this year, the trial of the libel proceedings which Lee Hsien Loong instituted against Leong Sze Hian took place”.
He added that the two sets of lawyers have gone through two rounds of written submissions. On Monday (Nov 30) at 2.30 pm, the lawyers will once more appear in open court before Justice Aedit Abdullah to make their final oral arguments.
He added that subsequently, the judge will deliberate and hand down a written judgment.
The oral arguments will take place in Court 4B in the Supreme Court Building, Mr Lim wrote.
“That same morning, in the same courtroom 4B, the other libel trial between Lee Hsien Loong and Terry Xu begins before Justice Audrey Lim. I am also representing Terry Xu in that trial”, he added.
Mr Lim noted that on Monday morning, he will begin cross-examination of PM Lee.
PM Lee against Leong Sze Hian
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”.
PM Lee against Terry Xu
On Sept 1, 2019, Mr Lee asked Mr Xu to remove an article and Facebook post published by TOC on Aug 15, 2019, repeating allegations of abuse of power that his sister Lee Wei Ling made in 2017.
Mr Lee also asked TOC to publish a “full and unconditional apology”, along with an undertaking that it would not publish similar allegations in the future, and warned that he will have no choice but to hand the matter over to his lawyers to sue to enforce his full rights in law if TOC did not comply.
On Sept 4, 2019, Mr Xu issued a letter acknowledging Mr Lee’s letter of demand and stated that he will not comply with the demands set out in Mr Lee’s letter.
The next day (Sept 5), Mr Lee’s lawyers served Mr Xu with a writ of summons and a statement of claim at his place of residence, initiating a defamation case against him.
On Sept 10, 2019, Mr Xu filed a memorandum of appearance with the High Court, in response to the writ of summons and statement of claim filed by Mr Lee’s lawyers. The memorandum of appearance indicates that Mr Xu will contest the defamation action.
Mr Xu said that he “would like to have the opportunity to ask my Prime Minister — straight in his face” why Mr Lee has chosen to sue him instead of his siblings when TOC merely republished the words uttered by his siblings in 2017. He added that he wished to question the Prime Minister on this in his capacity as a Singapore citizen.
The trial in Terry Xu’s case will continue until December 4. /TISG