A Singaporean blogger has had to take down another four blog posts and a YouTube video after receiving another letter from the lawyer of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Roy Ngerng first received a letter from lawyer Davinder Singh on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week demanding that he take down and apologise for one blog post that had drawn parallels between Lee’s position as chairman of a sovereign wealth fund and the management of Singapore’s state pension fund and an ongoing trial into the misappropriation of funds by a megachurch.
Lee’s lawyer said that alleging that the he had misappropriated funds “constitutes a very serious libel”. On top of asking Ngerng to apologise, Lee also wanted to claim costs and damages.
Ngerng apologised for the article on Friday morning, admitting that the allegation was “false and completely without foundation”. He asked that Lee waive his demand for damages.
In response, Lee’s lawyers set a Monday evening deadline for Ngerng to respond with an offer of damages. If not, legal proceedings would be taken against him.
On Monday morning, another letter was received, taking issue with four blog posts and a video. Three of the blog posts raised questions over the way the state pension fund is managed, whereas the last blog post and video contained Ngerng’s response to Lee’s demand for damages.
Two of the articles had been published long before the first lawyer’s letter had arrived, one in July 2012 and one in May 2013.
“It is now clear from your client’s latest posts that your client’s apology and undertaking was not and never meant to be genuine,” Davinder Singh wrote to Ngerng’s lawyer M Ravi. He went on to say that Ngerng had “opportunistically” used the episode to “raise his public profile, garner support and sympathy, and renew his attack against our client”. This, Singh asserted, meant that Lee would be entitled to “aggravated damages”.
But Lee would be prepared not to claim these aggravated damages if Ngerng took down the four blog posts and video by Monday evening. Ngerng still has to make an offer of damages for the initial blog post that sparked this whole dispute.
In response, Ngerng’s lawyer M Ravi said that Ngerng would comply with Lee’s demand and take down the posts. He also asked that the deadline for an offer of damages be extended to Wednesday evening.