No right to lie
Sat, Oct 18, 2008

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Singapore's government has defended itself against a charge of using defamation suits to stifle dissent, saying they are necessary for protection against unfounded allegations by political opponents.

Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Singapore's leaders to stop using libel suits to silence its critics after an opposition party was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

"In Singapore, opposition politicians have the right to criticise the government and government leaders, but that does not entitle them to tell lies or defame," said information ministry spokeswoman K. Bhavani late Friday.

"If they do, the leaders must either sue to clear their names and be prepared to be cross examined in open court, or allow the lies to stand unchallenged and the public to believe that the defamations are true."

A judge this month ordered the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), its secretary general Chee Soon Juan and his sister, a party member, to pay $610,000 for defaming the country's leaders.




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