The Online Citizen editor refuses to take down article on PM Lee’s siblings, citing ‘love for S’pore’
'It is my moral obligation to help dissipate the climate of fear that permeates discourse in Singapore to ensure a more open, vibrant and robust society for the future of Singapore.'
Over the weekend, on Sept. 1, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary sent a letter requesting the take-down of an article that reported what she said are defamatory statements about PM Lee:
The article, about comments made by PM Lee’s siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, was published on sociopolitical news portal The Online Citizen‘s website and Facebook page.
Terry Xu, TOC’s chief editor, was given three days to comply and issue an apology.
On Wednesday evening, he published his response, which not only denied the statements made in the letter, but also refused to take down his article and Facebook post.
The article was initially taken down on Sunday, but was by Wednesday put back online.
TOC article not defamatory
Xu said in his letter that he was “merely republishing the words uttered by (PM Lee’s) siblings”, adding that because the members of Lee’s family “would have been privy to the events” referred to, and the fact that the conflict between Lee and his siblings gives rise to “issues of public interest”, he believed the article he published constitutes fair comment.
Apologised that his article could have been misinterpreted
However, he also acknowledged that the contents of his article could have been misinterpreted.
“It was not my intention to suggest that your removal as an executor in the will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew occurred after 2011. Neither did I intend to suggest that your removal as an executor and trustee of the will was a result of the issue of the gazetting of the 38 Oxley. I certainly recognise the possibility of the misinterpretation, which you have pointed out at paragraph 4 of your Letter. In that regard, I offer my apologies.”
He added that the article was “not intended to raise doubts or misunderstanding about the technicalities surrounding the allegations, but on the bigger picture relating to the allegations of abuse of power and the state of the relationship between the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son.”
Not complying with “demands” of PM Lee’s letter
Xu admitted to his fear that “the cost stemming from the possible legal suit from (PM Lee) may be hefty”, but said that was “a price (he is) willing to pay” to uphold his own principles and obligations to Singapore and fellow Singaporeans.
“I stand guided by my love for Singapore and Singaporeans. It is my moral obligation to help dissipate the climate of fear that permeates discourse in Singapore to ensure a more open, vibrant and robust society for the future of Singapore.
Accordingly, I will not be complying with the demands set out at paragraph 8 of the Letter.”
Read his full letter here:
3 days ago:
Image from TOC Facebook and Wikipedia.