A High Court hearing on July 1, 2015, to assess the amount of damages blogger Roy Ngerng has to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw the Internet scribe cross-examine Singapore's leader for more than three hours in the morning court session.
The morning session, which officially started at 10am, saw crowds queuing up outside of court as early as 8.30am. This was to ensure they got a seat in the public gallery to watch the start of court proceedings, in what has been scheduled to be a three-day hearing.
The average age of the public gallery, consisting of 60-odd members of the public who are mostly retirees, was about 65 years old.
Some of them are so senior, they don't even speak English.
PM Lee on the stand
A visibly under-the-weather PM Lee took the stand barely 15 minutes after opening statements were made, much to the delight of the crowd who were looking forward to a spectacle.
Presiding judge Justice Lee Seiu Kin told Ngerng he would guide him along as the blogger was not schooled in law.
Ngerng's lines of questioning at times exasperated PM Lee, who could be seen sniffling into his handkerchief. Lee is represented by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, while Ngerng is unrepresented.
Despite the senior counsel's objections, Justice Lee said that Ngerng was entitled to some latitude in his questioning during the cross-examination, but not if he went too far into irrelevance.
If Ngerng sought to prove that he had no malice, he should go on the stand, said Senior Counsel Davinder Singh.
Ngerng countered: “Your Honour, you can put me on a lie detector and I can prove that there’s no malice on my part.”
Comments, such as these made by Ngerng during cross-examination, drew sniggers from the crowd.
But despite not feeling well, PM Lee was sharp and humorous in his responses, and snappy at times. At some points, he would accuse Ngerng of asking "irrelevant" questions.
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh stood up and sat down repeatedly
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh rose repeatedly to object to Ngerng's lines of questioning throughout the morning court session.
However, Justice Lee assured the lawyer that he was willing to give Ngerng more room to manoeuvre. The judge was also willing to accept the relevant with the irrelevant, in the interest of not missing out on relevant parts.
Court was adjourned at 1.30pm, after more than three hours of non-stop questioning by Ngerng.
Court resumed at 2pm. PM Lee returned to the stand and was still on it at 3.30pm.
Additional reporting by Ng Yi Shu