Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Blogger asked to remove defamatory post about PM Lee

Update 22 April 2016: RSF - Singapore Press Freedom worsen to 154th because of TRS and Roy Ngerng


Reporters without Borders (RSF) yesterday (April 22) published a damning report on Singapore’s press freedom with specific reference to the political persecution of The Real Singapore and defamation suit against Roy Ngerng. RSF lambaste Singapore’s censorship board, the Media Devlopment Authority (MDA), and the country’s oppressive censorship laws for repressing journalism in Singapore. You may view the official statement here.

“The Media Development Authority Act, the Films Act and the Broadcasting Act empower the Media Development Authority (MDA) to censor journalistic content, including online content. In April 2015, this government agency ordered the closure of The Real Singapore (TRS) news website because of content regarded as overly critical. Two of its alleged contributors were accused of “sedition,” which is punishable by 21 years in prison. Defamation suits are common in the city-state and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has personally brought prosecutions against bloggers.”

Earlier this year, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was awarded S$150,000 in damages for a defamation lawsuit he won in a default judgment against an online blogger who criticised him and his wife for conflict of interests. Lee Hsien Loong is both the Prime Minister and Chairman of the country’s sovereign wealth fund (SWF) company, GIC Pte Ltd. His wife, Ho Ching, is the CEO of Singapore’s other SWF company, Temasek Holdings. The two SWF companies borrow the country’s CPF fund at cheap interest rates as low as 2.5% under legislation approved by the Prime Minister himself, while reaping undisclosed profits from their investment returns.

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Singapore: decision against blogger Roy Ngerng constitutes a huge setback for freedom of expression in the country

The decision of the High Court of Singapore ordering blogger Roy Ngerng to pay damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong following a civil defamation suit brought in 2014 constitutes a major blow for freedom of expression in the country, said the ICJ today.
In a judgment released on 17 December 2015, the High Court ordered Roy Ngerng to pay SG$100,000 in general damages (approximately US$70,667) and SG$50,000 (approximately US$35,330) in aggravated damages.
This decision comes approximately six months after a three-day hearing on assessment of damages took place.
Singapore court order CPF blogger to pay Lee Hsien Loong S$150,000
The Singapore High court today (Dec 17) ordered CPF blogger Roy Ngerng to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong S$150,000 for defamation. Roy Ngerng was found guilty in Oct 2014 for defaming Lee Hsien Loong in a default judgment, where there is no fair trial and contest over what’s defamatory.
The article which the Prime Minister took offense was the one that drew similarities between Lee Hsien Loong’s PM position and his doomed investor wife’s, the CEO of the country’s sovereign wealth fund company Temasek Holdings, and the round tripping fraud Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church used to siphon church funds to fund his wife’s doomed singing career.
Other unrelated articles pertaining to CPF matters are also ordered to be taken down, which the Prime Minister claimed was defamatory as well.
Catherine Lim writes an open letter to PM Lee Hsien Loong
Sir, It was with much dismay that I read the report ‘Blogger ordered to pay PM 150k in damages’ in the Straits Times of 18 December 2015. I was less struck by the specifics of a court case that Singaporeans must have been following with great interest over the months – the standpoints taken by the contending parties, the various judicial processes, the assessment of damages to be paid to the plaintiff – than by one stark fact: once again, Sir, your powerful government is putting to use its most powerful instrument for silencing critics, namely, the defamation suit.
This dreaded instrument that had been created in a past era to punish political opponents specifically and instil fear in the people generally, could not have appeared at a more inappropriate time. For this is supposedly a period of sweeping change and new connection with the people, following the PAP’s resounding victory in a highly fraught general election. Charged with new energy, the government has been engaged in a massive exercise of goodwill and generous giving to the people, firstly to consolidate and strengthen the support that they had given in the election, and secondly, to lead them, during this crucial period of transition, into a new era of PAP leadership that promises to be even better connected with their needs and aspirations.
In such a celebratory climate of amity and unity, the continuing use of a political tool that Singaporeans have come to associate with the least attractive, nay, the most repulsive aspect of PAP rule, must surely inject a discordant note.

Judge becomes social media expert for a day and analyse the influence of Roy Ngerng
Justice Lee: "The words of a dishevelled tramp in a street corner would be far less capable of causing damage than that of the CEO of a multi-national company."
CPF blogger Roy Ngerng, 34, was ordered by the Supreme Court to pay S$150,000 in damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation. This comprises S$100,000 in general damages and S$50,000 in aggravated damages.
S$150,000 in damages is considered low in the history of defamation law suits by political leaders in Singapore.
For instance, the late JB Jeyaretnam lost defamation a suit over a Workers’ Party (WP) article in 1998 and was ordered to pay $265,000 (not adjusted for inflation).
Roy Ngerng says sorry to PM Lee again, removes portion of article that spreads libel
Blogger Roy Ngerng has issued another apology to PM Lee on his blog just after midnight on Friday.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Blogger Roy Ngerng, who has been found to have defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, issued another apology to PM Lee on his blog just after midnight on Friday.

This apology came hours after a heated court hearing to assess damages Mr Ngerng has to pay Mr Lee, during which Mr Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, pointed out that Mr Ngerng's act of republishing a letter of demand on his blog had amounted to perpetrating the defamatory content.

This was because the letter had included phrases from the libellous article, as well as hyperlinks to third-party websites on which the article was reproduced in its entirety.

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Full Coverage:
Straits Times: Exchanges in court

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Suing a poor man
The intention of every plaintiff in a civil suit is to recover what he has lost. In the case of a defamation suit, he sues for compensation for loss of reputation in the eyes of third parties. This compensation may take the form of an apology and/or monetary payment. If a plaintiff demands monetary compensation, he is vindicated if he is awarded damages, which need not be a colossal sum but just a nominal sum

Civil litigation in Singapore is expensive. Commencing a law suit in the High Court entails a minimum court fee of $500. An application for summary judgement costs $500 and every affidavit attracts a minimum fee of $50 with each page of an exhibit incurring another $2. In addition, electronic filing fees with service charge have to be paid.


Everyone is entitled to sue if he feels aggrieved by someone. And anyone sued can defend himself if he feels that he is wronged. The court where one seeks justice is open to all and judges and all the court staff are paid by taxpayers. Accessibility to the courts is guaranteed to all who have the money to pay the required fees set out in the Rules of Court and electronic filing charges.

But court fees are not the only costs that one should consider before commencing an action. Lawyers too have to be paid unless they offer their services pro bono or free. And lawyers’ fees do not come cheap in Singapore. A litigant has to pay the lawyer he engages and if he loses his claim, he has also to pay the lawyers of his opponents. As can be seen in the case of PM Lee Hsien Loong vs Roy Ngerng, the latter was ordered to pay $29,000 to PM Lee’s lawyers when they won the application for summary judgement. In addition, Roy Ngerng has also to pay S$6,000 for an unsuccessful application for the admission of a Queen’s Counsel.

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Judge on why request for QC rejected
Mr Roy Ngerng (centre) was ordered to pay $6,000 to PM Lee for the unsuccessful bid to hire a QC.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Blogger Roy Ngerng's court case for defaming the Prime Minister may attract "popular" interest, but this did not make it one involving "public" interest.

The concepts are different, said Justice Steven Chong in decision grounds released yesterday on why he refused Mr Ngerng's request to hire a Queen's Counsel.


After a court ruled last November that he had defamed PM Lee Hsien Loong, the 34-year-old blogger applied for British QC Heather Rogers, an expert in defamation law, to represent him in a hearing to assess how much damages he has to pay.

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Singapore court orders blogger to pay PM nearly $22,000 for legal costs
Speaker Roy Ngerng, of online blog The Heart Truths, addresses the crowd during a protest against new licensing regulations imposed by the government for online news sites, at Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 8, 2013

A Singapore court has ordered a blogger to pay S$29,000 ($21,700) to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as legal costs after Lee won a defamation case late last year.

Lee won a High Court defamation case against blogger Roy Ngerng, 33, in November, the first time the city-state's leadersued an online critic.

Ngerng was sued for his blog post in May when he was alleged to have implicated Lee in impropriety in connection with how funds in Singapore's mandatory retirement savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund(CPF), are managed.

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Full coverage: 
rappler: Singapore activist ordered to pay PM $22,000 in legal costs
Xinhua: Singapore blogger ordered to pay PM 29000 SGD in defamation lawsuit
Star Online: Singapore court orders blogger to pay PM nearly $22000 for legal costs
Malay Mail: Blogger told to pay Singapore prime minister's legal cost
Straits Times: High Court orders Roy Ngerng to pay PM Lee $29000 in costs
AsiaOne: Roy Ngerng ordered to pay PM Lee $29000; PM reiterates readiness
Channel News Asia: Blogger ordered to pay PM Lee S$29000
TODAYonline: Blogger Roy Ngerng ordered to pay PM Lee S$29000 in total costs


Blogger asked to remove defamatory post about PM Lee

Mr Roy Ngerng, 33, speaking at the recent Labour Day protest at Hong Lim Park on May 1. He has been asked to remove a blog post in which he alleges that CPF funds have been "misappropriated". -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

A blogger is facing legal action for alleging that CPF funds have been "misappropriated".

In a letter of demand sent through his lawyer to Mr Roy Ngerng of the website The Heart Truths, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for the blog post to be removed from Mr Ngerng's website and his Facebook pages.

If he fails to do so, he could be sued for defamation.

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Singapore blogger offers PM compensation for defamatory post

A Singaporean blogger accused by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of defamation today offered compensation after initially refusing to do so, as the premier’s lawyer accused him of lacking contrition.

“Our client proposes to offer Sg$5,000 (US$4,000) as damages to the Prime Minister,” Roy Ngerng Yi Ling’s legal counsel M. Ravi said in a letter to Lee’s lawyer.

“The sum of Sg$5,000 is based on our client’s modest living and income that he derives from working as a healthcare worker,” Ravi wrote in the letter, released to the media.

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PM Lee rejects blogger's appeal not to claim damages, legal costs in defamation case

PM Lee Hsien Loong has rejected an appeal not to demand for damages and legal costs from blogger Roy Ngerng, according to his lawyer Senior Counsel Davinder Singh said in a letter on Friday.

Ngerng now has until 5pm next Monday to send in a written offer failing which legal proceedings will be started against him.

Earlier on Friday, Ngerng “unreservedly” apologized for a blogpost written last week which was considered defamatory to PM Lee. But the blogger's lawyer M Ravi dismissed the demand for compensation, while urging Lee not to seek damages.

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Blogger Roy Ngerng takes down blog post about PM Lee
Roy Ngerng Yi Ling speaking during a three-hour protest rally at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park on 8 June 2013. Blogger Roy Ngerng has removed a blog post accusing the Government of "misappropriating" CPF funds, a day after he was asked to do so by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lawyer. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Blogger Roy Ngerng has removed a blog post accusing the Government of "misappropriating" CPF funds, a day after he was asked to do so by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's lawyer.

The health-care worker said he took down the blog post on Monday night, but is still deciding how he should respond to a letter of demand sent to him from Mr Lee's lawyer.

Mr Ngerng said on Tuesday his lawyer M. Ravi would be meeting with Mr Lee's lawyers to discuss the issue.

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MULTIPLE BUS STOPS VANDALIZED WITH CPF MESSAGES

A string of vandalism cases has been occurring around Singapore with bus stops defaced with CPF related messages.

An image of one such vandalised bus stop was circulating online yesterday showing a clear screen advertising space at the Old Hill Street Police Station vandalized:

The message read "We Support CPF Blogger. Return our CPF Money From R/AC 'N' M/AC"

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Vandalism of six bus stops in Clarke Quay under probe


One of the bus stops in the Clarke Quay area that were vandalised. The police confirmed that a report was lodged early last Friday. It is understood that LTA contractors were dispatched by mid-afternoon to clean up the affected areas. -- PHOTO: TNP


The police are investigating a string of vandalism acts by apparent supporters of blogger Roy Ngerng, who was last week served a letter of demand for a post on May 15 alleging that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

Mr Ngerng apologised to PM Lee last Friday, and admitted that the allegation in his May 15 post is false and "completely without foundation".

He added: "I unreservedly apologise to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for the distress and embarrassment caused to him by this allegation."

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Blogger Roy Ngerng submits bid for Nominated Member of Parliament position
Yahoo Newsroom - Blogger Roy Ngerng stands outside Singapore's Parliament building with his NMP proposal in hand. (Photo courtesy of Roy Ngerng)

Political blogger Roy Ngerng on Wednesday morning announced a surprise bid for a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) position.

Taking to his Facebook page, the 33-year-old healthcare programme co-ordinator posted a picture of himself holding his proposal outside Parliament House, saying, "Looking forward to representing the voices of Singaporeans in Parliament. If I get selected!"

The proposal, he said, was submitted by fellow blogger and activist Han Hui Hui, who previously took on Singapore's Council for Private Education over issues relating to private schools she attended.

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PM Lee demands apology and compensation from blogger

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has demanded an apology and compensation from blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, 33, for a post that alleges Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings have been "misappropriated", and alludes to wrongdoing by the Government.

Mr Lee, in a letter of demand sent via his lawyer, also wants Mr Ngerng to remove the post from his blog called The Heart Truths and two Facebook pages.

If Mr Ngerng does not comply by tomorrow, he will be sued for defamation. Yesterday, he put the letter up on his blog.

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Singapore PM demands apology from blogger


Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has demanded an apology from a local blogger for a posting seen as accusing him of corruption, Lee's lawyer said.

Lawyer Davinder Singh wrote to Roy Ngerng Yi Ling on Sunday asking him to take down the original article as well as the links posted on his Facebook pages and to post an apology by Wednesday.

Singh said the allegations by Ngerng in his May 15 blog post were "false and baseless".

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Singapore PM wants apology from blogger for corruption charge
Roy Ngerng had on his website, The Heart Truths, posted a blog titled "Where your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial."

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sent a legal notice to a local blogger, demanding the removal of an article accusing him of corruption which had been "published maliciously", local media reported. Roy Ngerng had on his website, The Heart Truths, posted a blog titled "Where your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial", which is understood to mean that Lee "is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid in the Central Provident Fund (CPF)".

CPF is compulsory contribution from local workers and employers to a providential fund for the workers. The City Harvest Trial refers to a local church related fund management case in Singapore court. "This is a false and baseless allegation and constitutes a very serious libel against our client, disparages him and impugns his character, credit and integrity," the notice dated May 18 stated.

The notice was issued by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew & Napier law firm, acting on behalf of Lee. Lee wants Ngerng to immediately remove the blogpost, publish an apology on the homepage of his blog for as long as the offending blog post was left online, and pay compensation for damages and legal costs.

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Demands Apology from Blogger

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has demanded an apology from a local blogger for a posting seen as accusing him of corruption, Lee's lawyer said.

Lawyer Davinder Singh wrote to Roy Ngerng Yi Ling on Sunday asking him to take down the original article as well as the links posted on his Facebook pages and to post an apology by Wednesday.

Mr Singh said the allegations by Ngerng in his May 15 blog post were "false and baseless".

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PM Lee issues letter of demand to blogger over CPF article

Blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling has been served with a letter of demand by lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The letter from Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, of Drew and Napier LLC, who is acting on PM Lee’s behalf, points to an article Mr Ngerng had written and published on 15 May.

The article was titled, “Where Your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial”.

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Singapore PM demands that blogger delete 'false' graft accusations and apologise
But writer says he is 'being sued' for posting about the need for greater accountability and transparency on wealth fund

Singh said the allegations by Ngerng in his May 15 blog post were “false and baseless”.

“The article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and the chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the CPF (Central Provident Fund),” Singh wrote in the letter.

GIC is a sovereign wealth fund that manages more than US$100 billion of the city-state’s foreign reserves. CPF is the state pension fund.

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Singapore PM demands retraction and apology from blogger Ngerng

Healthcare worker Ngerng, 33, regularly posts commentaries critical of the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in his blog The Heart Truths.

Recent posts have called for greater transparency on how CPF funds are invested by the government through GIC and state investment firm Temasek Holdings.

“My articles have been calling for greater accountability and transparency, and instead of acknowledging these issues, the prime minister has decided to sue me,” Ngerng told AFP.

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OPEN LETTER TO PM LEE: LEGAL ACTION NOT NECESSARY TO RESOLVE ISSUE, ONLY BAD PR

Dear PM Lee, I am shocked to learn that blogger Roy Ngerng has been served with a letter of demand by PM Lee’s lawyer on 18 May.

Since Roy has alleged that CPF funds have been misappropriated, the government could have set the record straight with an INDEPENDENT audit of CPF Board and the GIC. The reason why speculation is rife is due to the opacity in the management of our CPF savings.

What PM Lee should have done was simply inform Roy of the ‘serious mistake’ in his article to have it removed. This would have put PM Lee in a good light should legal action be subsequently required.

related:
ROY NGERNG: M RAVI WILL BE REPRESENTING ME FOR THIS CASE
PRIME MINISTER DEMANDS THAT BLOGGER PAYS HIS LEGAL FEES

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Roy versus PM: Blog with your Head not with your Heart




I was surprised to read that Roy Ng, who blogs at http://thehearttruths.com/, was served with a letter of demand from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong via his legal attack dog – Senior Counsel (SC) Davinder Singh. The letter is reproduced below (Ed: see Link).

I did say I was surprised, although naturally legal letters and lawsuits have always been ‘par for the course’ in Singapore politics. Many people have formed the view that the ruling party (PAP) have used this ‘tried and tested method’ to silence its’ critics. The PAP and its supporters of course take the opposite view – lawsuits and the like are necessary tools to ensure that the truth gets out and irresponsible and inaccurate speeches, words, statements and writings are exposed and those behind it made to stop or brought to their knees.

In fact Lee Kuan Yew earned his moniker ‘The Hatchet Man’ because he unashamedly said that he ‘carried a hatchet in his bag’ and would not hesitate to use it against those he perceived were out to destroy the PAP, in this instance to then Workers Party chief – J B Jeyaretnam.

related:
Who the hell is Roy Ngerng?
PM Lee sends letter of demand to blogger Roy Ngerng

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Blogger Roy Ngerng: I Just Got Sued By PM Lee Hsien Loong for Defamation

Hello everyone, I am Roy Ngerng. I am an ordinary citizen in Singapore who believes in speaking up for my country and my fellow citizens. Over the past 2 years, I have written nearly 400 articles about what is happening in Singapore. I have advocated for a fairer and more equal Singapore where every Singapore and every person in Singapore can be taken care of and protected by our country. As of today, there have been nearly 2 million views on my blog.

Today, I received an email from Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyer. I am being sued for defamation. I have tried my best to speak up for my country. I have tried my best to advocate for my fellow citizens. However, today, I am sued by the very government which should be protecting its citizens, such as me. This is disappointing.

I have reproduced the letter that has been sent to me in this blog. The letter was sent by Davinder Singh from Drew & Napier.

related:
Best for Roy Ngerng to thrash it out in open court?
Roy Ngerng: With your support, I will stand up and challenge the Gov

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PM Lee threatens to sue blogger Roy Ngerng for defamation
The Heart Truths, 19 May 2014

Today, I received an email from Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyer. I am being sued for defamation. I have tried my best to speak up for my country. I have tried my best to advocate for my fellow citizens. However, today, I am sued by the very government which should be protecting its citizens, such as me. This is disappointing.

I have reproduced the letter that has been sent to me in this blog. The letter was sent by Davinder Singh from Drew & Napier.

Related:
The Heart Truths of Libel Suits
– Singapore Ideas: Online defamation
– Reflections of a disciple: Thinking about the case of CPF minimum sum
– Life of a simple boy: CPF and Roy
– Limpeh Is Foreign Talent: Limpeh reflects on Roy Ngerng’s situation
– A Load of Fish: Roy Ngerng vs PM Lee
– 5 Stars & a Moon: How else could PM have handled Roy “Sexispider” Ngerng?
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Roy’s a real S’porean
– Insight of Me: Hard Truths of Roy Ngerng’s Case
– Jeremy Chen’s Website: Defamation 2.0: A New “Truth Seeking” Process
– SpotlightOnSingapore: PM Lee to blame: defamation suit against Roy Ngerng
– Food Fuels Me To Talk: Questions for Roy Ngerng
– SignsOfStruggle: PM Lee’s strong suit shows 3 weaknesses
– TOC: Crossroads for a more open and engaged media environment
– Balancing The Sentiment: Freedom of speech has its limits
– The Skinny: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics
– SG Hard Truth: Roy Ngerng is unwilling to defend his own work
– SpotlightOnSg: PM Lee’s defamation suit against blogger Roy Ngerng
– Askmelah: Yet another blogger being threaten to be sued by the PAP leaders
– Likedatosocanmeh: Legal action not necessary to resolve issue, bad PR
– Dewdrop Notes 露语: Bossy Aunties & Daring Bloggers
– Sam’s thoughts: Take a chance on him?
– The New Era: Let’s play spot the difference again
MalaysianDigest: Singapore PM Lee Demands Apology From Blogger
NewStraitsTimes: Singapore PM demands apology from blogger
MySinChew: Singapore PM demands apology from blogger
– TOC: PM Lee issues letter of demand to blogger over CPF article
– Guanyinmiao’s Musings: Heart Truths
– EverythingAlsoComplain: Roy Ngerng defaming PM Lee in Heart Truths blog
– Anyhow Hantam: Roy Ng v the PM: Blog with your Head not with your Heart
– Blogging for Myself: PM Lee sues blogger Roy Ngerng
– Small steps for Social PR: The Itsy Sexi Spider Did Climb The “Sue Me” Spout
– My Singapore News: Roy Ngerng being sued by Hsien Loong
– Wise Mental King: Why serving Roy Ngerng a letter of demand is politically costly
– Signs of Struggle: PM Lee’s strong suit shows 3 weaknesses
– 2econdsight: PM Lee Sues Young Citizen Ngerng
– Just Speaking My Mind: Roy Ngerng Blogger Sued by PM Lee
– SG HardTruth: Roy Ngerng, You can’t just happily slap without expecting slap back
– Marry Thai Girl Singapore: Roy Ngerng Received a Lawyer’s Letter from Mr. Lee
– Jeremy Chen: It's important to be fair to the plaintiff in this latest “defamation case”
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related:
Blogger to pay PM Lee libel damages over 17 years
A Butterfly On A Wheel