Blogger Roy Ngerng to testify: Lawyer

Blogger Roy Ngerng to testify: Lawyer
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, who was found to have defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will testify at a hearing to assess the amount of damages payable, his lawyer M. Ravi said yesterday.

In a statement to the media, Mr Ravi also denied saying at a closed-door hearing on Monday that his client "did not want to be cross-examined" - a point Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin had made in a statement to the media on Monday.

His remark drew a rebuttal from Ms Chang, who said: "Despite what Mr Ravi said in court, he has now publicly confirmed that Mr Ngerng is prepared to give evidence and to be cross-examined at the hearing to assess damages." She added: "The Prime Minister looks forward to that."

Yesterday's exchange is the latest development in the continuing saga on what was said at the hearing on Monday when Justice Lee Seiu Kin ordered Mr Ngerng to pay PM Lee $29,000 in costs for legal fees and related expenses, with damages to be assessed later.

At issue is the point Ms Chang made in a media statement on Monday that Mr Ngerng "did not want to be cross-examined''.

This, she said the following day, was indicated in the notes on the hearing taken by law firm Drew & Napier - whose Senior Counsel Davinder Singh is representing Mr Lee.

Yesterday, Mr Ravi, referring to the same notes, said they "seem to me to be accurate, precise and complete as far as they go". But nowhere do they say that his client "did not want to be cross-examined", he added.

Responding, Ms Chang said: "Mr Ravi accepts that the notes are 'accurate, precise and complete'. But in quoting from them, he has carefully and selectively omitted his own words to the Court."

She said he did not cite the fact that he had told Justice Lee: "Therefore, I won't be filing (an affidavit). Enough Your Honour, I won't be filing."

That, she said, was the "clearest admission of his indication to the Court that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined".

Mr Ravi, however, said he made the remark "to protect my client's right to have the final say (over whether to testify)".

His move followed Mr Singh's statement at the Monday hearing that he would cross-examine Mr Ngerng should he testify at a subsequent hearing to assess damages to the PM.

Mr Ravi also said the notes indicate he would be taking instructions from Mr Ngerng on whether the blogger would be giving evidence. The hearing dates to assess damages have not been announced.

But Justice Lee had directed Mr Ravi to confirm by Jan 30 if Mr Ngerng would be giving evidence.

Last November, the High Court judge ruled in a summary judgment that Mr Ngerng had defamed PM Lee by suggesting he had misappropriated Central Provident Fund savings.

This article was first published on January 15, 2015.
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