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PM Lee sues blogger Leong Sze Hian for defamation for sharing M’sian website article alleging corruption

The article was first posted by the website States Times Review.

Matthias Ang | December 4, 2018 @ 10:53 pm

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Financial adviser and blogger Leong Sze Hian is being sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Sued for sharing article

This was after Leong shared an article on Facebook that alleged complicity on the part of PM Lee in Malaysia’s 1MDB corruption scandal.

According to The Straits Times, Leong shared the article “Breaking News: Singapore Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target – Najib signed several unfair…” and alleged that former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had signed “secret deals” with Lee to launder money through Singaporean banks.

The article had originally been published on the website State Times Review on Nov. 5, which was subsequently removed on or around Nov. 10.

The Online Citizen  reported that the article had also claimed that editor-in-chief Clare Rewcastle of investigative journalism platform Sarawak Report (SR) had supposedly mentioned Singapore as a key investigation target in the 1MDB scandal during an interview with Malaysian media.

The article was rebutted by both the Singapore High Commission in Malaysia and Rewcastle herself, with the former calling it “fake news and clearly libellous”, and the latter calling it “misleading” and “erroneous”.

According to ST, Leong had supposedly shared the article on Nov. 7, only to take it down sometime on Nov. 10, by which time it had supposedly been shared 18 times.

The Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) had sent Leong a letter requesting that the shared post be taken down in six hours as it violated the Internet Code of Conduct. 

TOC added that Leong is understood to have complied with the letter.

Both ST and TOC reported that on Nov. 12, Leong then received a letter from Drew & Napier, demanding that Leong make a public apology and compensate PM Lee for damages.

Letter of demand sent by PM’s lawyers

The letter contained a statement by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh.

It said:

“Those allegations are false and baseless and constitute a very serious libel against our client, and disparage and impugn his character, credit and integrity.”

ST reported that the letter also claimed Leong published the post “maliciously and to damage our client”.

The letter also added that as a separate and distinct libel, the offending words in Leong’s Facebook post “meant and were understood to mean that the Plaintiff was complicit in criminal activity relating to 1MDB”.

What’s more, these words are “are false and baseless and were calculated to disparage and impugn the Plaintiff in his office as the Prime Minister”.

TOC claimed that it had seen the Facebook post in question before it was removed and alleged that the article had been shared without captions.

ST quoted PM Lee’s lawyers who said that the prime minister had been “gravely injured in his character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt”.

Chang Li Lin, the press secretary to the Prime Minister, was also quoted by ST.

She said:

“Mr Lee reserves the right to take legal action against other parties who similarly defame him.”

Chang also confirmed that legal proceedings have since commenced against Leong.

Mothership.sg has reached out to Leong for clarification on the issue.

Top image collage from Leong Sze Hian Facebook and Lee Hsien Loong Facebook

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