[Updated on 28 May, 12am]
A week ago, you would not have heard of blogger Roy Ngerng.
That is unless you are a regular Hong Lim park attendee or an avid reader of his socio-political blog The Heart Truths.
Here is a chronological summary of the whole saga last week that propelled Ngerng into the limelight:
1) Sunday, 18 May - Monday,19 May
Ngerng was served a Letter of Demand by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s lawyers on Sunday. Ngerng announced that he was sued.
- Ngerng was served a Letter of Demand from Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew and Napier law firm.
- This was because he wrote a blog post (“Where Your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial”) which compared PM Lee and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme with the City Harvest misappropriations trial.
- Ngerng implied that PM Lee, as Chairman of GIC, is "guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the CPF.”
- PM Lee’s lawyers demanded Ngerng remove his blog post, publish an apology, and pay damages as well as legal costs by 21 May 2014.
- Ngerng wrote that he was sued by the government and was "finally silenced". He continued to rally supporters to attend the #ReturnOurCPF event on 7 June in Hong Lim Park.
2) Tuesday, 20 May
Ngerng took down the post from his blog, but stalled on his apology
- Ngerng took down the offending post on his blog.
- Ngerng continued to publish blog posts on the CPF scheme (“YOUR CPF: The Complete Truth and Nothing But The Truth”).
- He also asked his supporters to sign an online petition (1,593 supporters as of 24 May,9am) and join the Facebook event page (508 fans attending, as of 24 May,9am) to ask the government to return Singaporeans' CPF.
3) Wednesday, 21 May:
Ngerng applies to be an NMP, deadline for apology extended to Friday, Support from human rights group
Source: Roy Ngerng Facebook
- Ngerng published his application to be a Nominated Member of Parliament, joining 35 other applicants. In his proposal, Ngerng shared the issues (labour, income inequality and poverty, CPF, healthcare and education) he would advocate as an NMP.
- Ngerng was also granted an extension of deadline until 23 May, 5pm to comply with the demands from PM Lee's lawyer.
- Human rights group Maruah and Singapore Democratic Party Sec-Gen Chee Soon Juan spoke up against PM Lee’s move.
- Chee said that “good leaders shouldn’t take action, even though we can, against those who speak ill of us". Maruah president Braema Mathi said it was “dismayed” with PM Lee’s actions, adding that Ngerng’s post should be ”refuted by the Prime Minister for any misinformation or lapses in communication” instead.
4) Friday, 23 May:
Ngerng apologises, PM Lee’s lawyers give him until Monday to make offer to compensate
- In a letter from Ngerng’s lawyer, Ngerng acknowledged that his blog post was understood to be defamatory, and apologized ‘unreservedly’ for ‘the distress and embarrassment caused to him by our client’s allegation’.
- The letter asked for damages to be dropped, stating that Ngerng "earns his modest living as a health care worker". The letter also cited professional conduct rules prohibiting PM Lee’s lawyers from demanding legal costs from Ngerng.
- Ngerng also posted his apology on his blog (see below) on 23 May evening.
- In response, PM's lawyer Davinder said in TODAY newspaper that Ngerng’s allegation was "very grave and highly malicious", and therefore PM is "fully entitled to damages" in the circumstances.
- PM’s lawyers gave Ngerng until 5pm on Monday 26 May to make an offer of damages and costs that reflect the gravity of the false and malicious charge, failing which legal proceedings will be commenced.
- Ngerng told The Straits Times that he had hoped for a "frank conversation" with PM on CPF but was disappointed that PM did not engage him and used the threat of legal action instead.
5) Monday, 26 May:
PM's lawyers said Ngerng's apology to a previous post not genuine. Ngerng agrees to delete four blogposts and a video he uploaded last Friday.
- PM's lawyers sent a letter to Ngerng saying his apology to a previous post "was not and never meant to be genuine", and demanded that he remove four further blogposts and a YouTube video, or face aggravated damages.
- Ngerng agreed to delete four more blogposts and a video he uploaded last Friday.
- Ngerng's lawyer Ravi says his client will give his response and make an offer for damages by Wednesday.
6) Tuesday, 27 May:
Ngerng emailed a link to the YouTube video he was supposed to have taken down to the local and international media. Ngerng' offer of $5,000 in damages was rejected by PM's lawyers
- Ngerng emailed a link to the YouTube video he had reportedly taken down to the local and international media, and had also sent out other links to various "offending posts".
- Senior Counsel Davinder asked Ngerng's lawyer, M Ravi, to explain his client's "outrageous conduct". Ravi said his client sincerely apologises for his "momentary lapse of judgement".
- Ngerng agrees to pay $5,000 in damages.
- PM's lawyers said Ngerng's offer of S$5,000 in damages for false allegations are "derisory" and completely disregarded the gravity of Ngerng's conduct.
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Top photo by Ng Yi Shu.