Hearing to grant PM Lee summary judgment set before High Court Judge

SINGAPORE - The hearing to decide if Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong should be granted summary judgment in his defamation suit against blogger Roy Ngerng is fixed for Sept 18 before a High Court Judge.

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Blogger Suit: PM seeks judgement in his favour without trial

Tham Yuen-c
The Straits Times
Saturday, Jul 12, 2014

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has applied to the High Court to rule in his favour in his defamation suit against blogger Roy Ngerng, without going through a trial.

The application for summary judgment was released to the media yesterday by Mr Ngerng's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi.

PM Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, argued in the application that Mr Ngerng, 33, has "no defence" against the claim of defamation.

Mr Singh said: "The defendant has no defence to the plaintiff's claims and the only issue to be determined is damages."

He asked the court to decide how much damages Mr Lee should receive, and asked for a ban on the continued publication or dissemination of the offending blog post and "other allegation to the same effect".

In a May 15 blog post, Mr Ngerng alleged that Mr Lee had misappropriated the Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings of Singaporeans.

The blogger had compared a Channel NewsAsia chart detailing the relationship between City Harvest Church leaders, prosecuted for misusing about $50 million in church funds, to another chart he had created.

His chart set out the relationships between the CPF Board, Mr Lee, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Temasek Holdings, GIC and other Singapore companies.

He later removed the post and apologised for it, after receiving a letter from Mr Lee's lawyer, but demurred on the issue of damages. He then offered to pay Mr Lee $5,000, which Mr Singh had said was derisory.

Mr Ngerng also followed up his first blog post with a few other posts and videos on the same topic.

Mr Ravi told the media that he would be making "submissions to vigorously resist the Prime Minister's application for summary judgment".

A summary judgment is a procedure whereby a plaintiff claims the defendant has no case and seeks judgment in his favour without a trial.

Mr Ngerng, in a defence filed in court last month, said he never intended to accuse Mr Lee of misappropriating CPF savings.

He also said the key concerns raised in his blog post, which is at the centre of the suit, were the lack of transparency with which CPF funds are managed and the question of interest on these savings, among other things.

A hearing has been scheduled for Sept 18 for the court to decide if it would grant a summary judgment.

Meanwhile, the case will proceed with a pre-trial conference next Thursday.