Blogger Roy Ngerng pays $29,000 costs to PM Lee's lawyers

Blogger Roy Ngerng pays $29,000 costs to PM Lee's lawyers
Singaporean activists Roy Ngerng (L) with his lawyer M. Ravi (R) leave the Supreme Court in Singapore on January 12, 2015. A Singapore court on January 12 ordered a local activist to pay 22,000 USD in legal costs to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who had won a defamation suit against him.

SINGAPORE -Blogger Roy Ngerng has paid the $29,000 costs to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday evening, reported The Straits Times.

According to The Straits Times, he appeared at the offices of Mr Lee's lawyers, Drew & Napier, with the $29,000 in cash, and handed over the cash after a representative of his lawyer, Mr M Ravi, gave approval for him to make the payment directly.

It was previously reported that Mr Ngerng, 33, had been given until noon on Monday, Feb 9, to pay costs of $29,000 to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He was found guilty of defaming Mr Lee in November last year, and was ordered to pay him $29,000 in costs for legal fees and related expenses.

The suit arose from Ngerng's May 15, 2014 blog post, which alleged that Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies had been misappropriated.

Responding to media queries today, the Prime Minister's press secretary, Ms Chang Li Lin, revealed that Mr Ngerng and his lawyer, Mr Ravi had missed a number of deadlines to make the payment.

Mr Lee's lawyers, had initially sent a letter to Mr Ravi on Jan 22, asking that payment be made by Jan 29, but did not receive a reply.

Drew & Napier then sent another letter to Mr Ravi the in Jan 30, asking for payment by noon on Feb 2, but again did not receive any reply, even though it was pointed out that one of Mr Ngerng's blog posts suggested that his lawyers had received the $29,000 to be paid.

Mr Lee's lawyers then received a call from Mr Ngerng on Feb 3, who said he wished to make the payment in cash.

Drew & Napier then wrote to Mr Ravi on Feb 3 to ask if he objected to the direct payment, as "under the lawyers' professional rules, a lawyer cannot without the consent of the opposite party's lawyer deal directly with the opposite party."

However, the firm again failed to receive a reply, which prompted them to write to Mr Ravi today to ask that payment of the costs be made by Monday next week.

The letter added that the firm would file a court application to compel payment if the payment is not made by the deadline.

Ms Chang said that Mr Ngerng had again called Drew & Napier today, saying he wished to make the payment directly. They have again written to Mr Ravi to ask if he had any objections, but have not received a reply.

"In light of this, PM will leave the matter in the hands of the Court," Ms Chang said, adding that if that order is granted and payment is still not made, the Prime Minister will avail himself of his legal remedies.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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