CPF blogger Roy Ngerng completes 7-hour cross-examination of PM Lee Hsien Loong in defamation damages hearing
"All I ever wanted to do was to just talk about the CPF and to allow Singaporeans to get their CPF back."
CPF blogger Roy Ngerng concluded his cross-examination of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a High Court hearing Wednesday to assess the amount of damages Ngerng has to pay for a defamatory blog post.
The cross-examination, which lasted more than three hours in the morning session and exceeding another three hours in the afternoon, saw Ngerng, who was representing himself, claiming that PM Lee was being “reckless with the law” by not conducting an open dialogue.
Ngerng had invited the PM to a dialogue following the blog posts, but the Prime Minister had rejected the offer, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Lee had countered by claiming rights to exercise the law like any other citizen.
“After defamation has been committed, I don’t think my answer is to have an open dialogue,” PM Lee was quoted as saying. “In my view, I want the courts to settle the matter.”
Speaking to assembled reporters outside the Supreme Court, Ngerng said that he would not have committed defamation on hindsight. He hoped that his actions to raise the CPF issue would be “taken in good faith” by the government.
He said Lee had a good sense of humour, responding with “Well done” when Ngerng said he had written more than 400 blog posts.
“I appreciate the fact that we were able to have cordial exchanges and I hope they turn out well,” Ngerng added.
After failing to get a Queen’s Counsel to represent him, he said he opted for self-representation to stay “true” to himself.
“(To me) this is my case; I am the best person to speak up for myself,” he said. “I’m sincere, I have no malice, and I hope that my very presence will show that.”
“I hope that Mr Lee will show compassion and graciousness to a citizen,” Ngerng added. “All I ever wanted to do was to just talk about the CPF and to allow Singaporeans to get their CPF back so that older Singaporeans are able to retire.”
Background to the case:
Ngerng was found to have defamed PM Lee in a summary judgement issued November 2014. The offending blogpost published by Ngerng juxtaposed a Channel NewsAsia chart detailing the relationship between City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders facing trial for misuse of church funds against his own chart detailing ties between the CPF, PM Lee, and GIC, which PM Lee chairs.
Ngerng was so far ordered to pay Mr Lee $29,000 in legal costs, with a further $6,000 after his Queen’s Counsel application was rejected.
The CPF blogger will return to court on Thursday morning to be cross-examined by the PM’s lawyers.