Award Banner
Award Banner

High Court orders blogger Leong Sze Hian to pay PM Lee $133k for defamation

High Court orders blogger Leong Sze Hian to pay PM Lee $133k for defamation
PM Lee's lawyers had argued for $150,000 in damages in the defamation suit against blogger Leong Sze Hian.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - The High Court has ordered blogger and financial adviser Leong Sze Hian to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong $133,000 for defamation.

The sum includes $100,000 in general damages and $33,000 in aggravated damages.

Mr Leong was sued for sharing, on his Facebook page, an article from the Malaysian news site The Coverage that falsely linked PM Lee to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal in Malaysia.

Justice Aedit Abdullah said in a written judgment on Wednesday (March 24) that Mr Leong did so "without making any enquiries as to its truth whatsoever" and displayed "reckless disregard of whether the article was true or not".

"When seen cumulatively with his refusal to apologise for the defamatory words, malice may be made out on the facts," the judge said.

ALSO READ: Leong Sze Hian didn't attempt to ascertain truth when sharing article with false allegations: PM Lee

PM Lee's lawyers had argued for $150,000 in damages, in line with what was awarded in a previous defamation case involving blogger Roy Ngerng.

But Justice Aedit said that in Mr Leong's case, there was "limited basis to award such damages".

He said: "The malice in this case, unlike in several of the other cases cited to me, did not involve a defendant wilfully posting something he knew to be false at the time of posting, nor did it involve a defendant who defiantly insisted on the truth of his libellous claims to the bitter end despite clear evidence to the contrary."

The judge added he will deal with the issue of costs separately.

In response to media queries, PM Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin said the matter has been decided by the judge and the Prime Minister has nothing further to add.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.