PM Lee rejects blogger's offer of $5,000 as damages

PM Lee rejects blogger's offer of $5,000 as damages

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has rejected blogger Roy Ngerng's offer of $5,000 as damages, his lawyer Davinder Singh said in a letter to Mr Ngerng's lawyer on Tuesday.


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Mr Singh said that the offer is "derisory and "completely disregards" the gravity of Mr Ngerng's conduct, the undisputed fact that the libel against Mr Lee is false and malicious, and Mr Ngerng's "calculated and systematic aggravation of the injury and distress" to Mr Lee.

"It is clear that your client has always known that the allegation of criminal misappropriation against our client is false, but chose nonetheless to publish it in a sensational manner, so as to raise his public profile and to gain support."

In a letter from Mr Ngerng's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, on May 23, Mr Ngerng said he would apologise and not make any further allegations to the same effect. But Mr Singh said that apology was "completely insincere" and "designed to mislead our client and the public".

"He always intended to and did opportunistically use the occassion of our client's lawful and legitimate demand to raise his public profile, garner support and sympathy and renew his attack against our client."

Mr Singh said Mr Ngerng "pursued a course which was designed to aggrevate the injury and distress to our client by publishing or republishing various posts and a YouTube video". He also repeated the libel, went back on his apology and broke his undertaking, said Mr Singh. As a result, Mr Lee became "entitled to recover aggravated damages".

Despite that, Mr Lee had offered to waive aggravated damages that he was entitled to, provided Mr Ngerng removed the 4 blog posts and YouTube video. Mr Ngerng said he would.

But Mr Ngerng did not do so. Instead, he made YouTube video private and also sent out two emails notifying addressees of where they could continue to read the posts.

"He therefore has only himself to blame for losing the opportunity of not having to pay for aggravated damages," said Mr Singh.

When asked to explain Mr Ngerng's actions, Mr M Ravi wrote a letter to Mr Singh saying it was a "momentary lapse of judgment", to which Mr Singh said the explanation is "disingenuous and incredible".

Mr Lee had been prepared to forego a substantial amount of the damages that he was entitled to if Mr Ngerng had "behaved honourably", said Mr Singh. Instead, Mr Ngerng had used the opportunity to "promote himself".

Mr Singh also said Mr Ngerng has not only misled the public and Mr Lee, but has also not come clean with Mr Ravi about his intention to send those two emails.

Mr Ravi is to let Mr Singh know by 5 pm on Friday if he has instructions to and will accept service of process on Mr Ngerng's behalf, the letter concluded.

maryanns@sph.com.sg

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