PM Lee rejects blogger Roy Ngerng's request to pay part of damages

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong turned down blogger Roy Ngerng's request that he be let off by paying $36,000 of the $150,000 he owes in damages. 

PM Lee responded to the request by saying Mr Ngerng had to pay his debt in full.

However, he said that the blogger could pay the $150,000 in damages by instalments if the $30,000 in hearing costs are paid immediately.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Ngerng agreed to the terms and will be paying the hearing costs by Mar 16 and $150,000 in instalments.

In a report by The Straits Times, Mr Ngerng's lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam said in a statement that he will pay $100 a month from Apil 1 for the next five years, following which monthly payments will be increased to $1,000 a month until the full sum is paid off by 2033.

No interest will be included if the payment is made on time. Otherwise, an interest rate of 5.33 per cent per annum will apply.

Mr Ngerng was taken to court for comparing PM Lee to legally embattled City Harvest leaders in a blog post on May 15, 2014.

At the time, the church leaders were being tried in court for misappropriating church funds.

In the post, he alleged that there were ties between the Central Provident Fund (CPF), PM Lee and sovereign wealth fund GIC.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin found the blogger guilty of being "malicious" and that he "cynically defamed" PM Lee, while adding that "the allegations that the plaintiff had criminally misappropriated monies paid by citizens to a state-administered pension fund was one of the gravest that could be made against any individual, let alone a head of government".

"It struck at the heart of one's personal integrity and severely undermined the credibility of the target, and was a grave defamation that a fair-minded person would react with indignation," he added.

prabukm@sph.com.sg