Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is suing a vocal critic of his government for defamation for sharing an article on Facebook that suggested he was involved in Malaysia’s multibillion dollar 1MDB financial scandal, according to local media.
The article, published by Malaysian outlet The Coverage, claimed Malaysia’s disgraced former prime minister Najib Razak – facing dozens of criminal charges over his links to the scandal – had dealt with Lee to secure Singapore banks’ help in relation to the 1MDB funds.
State media Straits Times reported that they were given a copy of the court documents which wrote:
“It is meant and were understood to mean that the Plaintiff corruptly used his position as Prime Minister to help Mr Najib Razak launder 1MDB’s billions. As a separate and distinct libel, the offending words in Mr Leong’s Facebook post meant and were understood to mean that the Plaintiff was complicit in criminal activity relating to 1MDB.”
Leong Sze Hian shared a link of the alleged offending article by Malaysia media The Coverage. The article reproduced from States Times Review, revealed the dictator Prime Minister’s links with former PM Najib Razak and the money laundering of 1MDB funds in Singapore when the latter was in power.
The Coverage, States Times Review and social media company Facebook had refused to comply with a censorship order from Singapore’s Infocomm Development Media Authority (IMDA), and the article is still in circulation. State media Straits Times however published a fake news claiming the article was taken down on Nov 10.
The defamation lawsuit against Leong Sze Hian is the fourth media clampdown by the Singapore dictatorship. On Nov 10, States Times Review was threatened with legal actions, which the website owner Alex Tan defiantly invited the Singapore Prime Minister to sue him in an Australian court instead. Less than a week later, editor of news website The Online Citizen was arrested on charges of “criminal defamation”. In the same week, the editor of news website IndependentSG was sued for defamation.
Leong Sze Hian
There are a lot of inaccuracies about the defamation case which the Prime Minister has brought against me, as reported by certain State media.
I thought that it was appropriate that I make this post so that Singaporeans have an accurate picture of the facts and not be misled by what they read.
On the 8th of November, I shared an article that had appeared in the Malaysian online news media, TheCoverage.my
This article related to the IMDB saga. I did not add any comments or embellish the article by The Coverage.my, but merely shared it. It is therefore grossly inaccurate for certain State media to have represented to the whole of Singapore that I had made a post which was defamatory of the Prime Minister.
On the 10th of November, I received a notice from IMDA with a demand that the shared post be taken down within 6 hours. I complied with that demand.
I was therefore bewildered when Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier LLC sent me a Letter of Demand on the 12th of November alleging that I had defamed the Prime Minister and demanding that I make a public apology and compensate the Prime Minister for damages. The Letter of Demand also stated that I had posted TheCoverage.my article maliciously and to damage his client. I reject all these allegations categorically.
Yesterday, people came to my house and posted the Writ of Summons and other court papers on my front gate.
I attach below a copy of Davinder Singh’s Letter of Demand for the Prime Minister and a picture of the various court documents posted on my front gate.
I turned 65 on 23rd of November and belong to the so-called “Merdeka” generation. I have fought for fundamental human rights in Singapore for the better part of my adult life in the last 2 decades or so, and the freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental of these human rights.