PM Lee to take stand & be cross-examined during defamation suit against blogger Leong Sze Hian

PM Lee suing for defamation over 2018 Facebook post.

Belmont Lay | September 01, 2020, 12:47 PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be cross-examined on the stand in High Court during the defamation trial against financial adviser and blogger Leong Sze Hian.

The hearing is confirmed for Oct. 6 to 9.

Details of hearing revealed by Leong's lawyer

The dates were set at a pre-trial conference with Justice Aedit Abdullah on Aug. 31.

This detail was provided by Leong's lawyer Lim Tean in a Facebook post after the conference:

In the post, which shared a photo of a statement by Lim's law firm, it was also claimed that "the largest court room available for the trial" will be utilised owing to public interest in the proceedings.

PM Lee will take the stand

A spokesman for PM Lee confirmed with The Straits Times that the leader of Singapore will give evidence on the stand.

Lim also wrote: "The expert witness who is to be called by PM Lee, Dr Tuan Quang Phan, will give evidence via video link from Hong Kong."

Phan is an associate professor of marketing, innovation and information management at Hong Kong University Business School.


PM Lee sued Leong for defamation for sharing a Facebook post on Nov. 7, 2018.

The post, which did not have any caption, contained a link to an article by Malaysian news site The Coverage.

The article featured allegations that former Malaysian PM Najib Razak had signed "secret deals" with PM Lee.

The deals were allegedly in exchange for Singapore banks' helped in laundering money from 1Malaysia Development Berhad or 1MDB.

PM Lee's legal team said in court papers filed that the allegations were "false and baseless".

Leong had published the post "maliciously and to damage our client", PM Lee's legal team added.

PM Lee is seeking aggravated damages.

He is also getting an injunction to prevent Leong from publishing or disseminating the defamatory allegations, or other allegations of complicity in matters relating to the embattled sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia.

Leong's defence

Leong, who turns 67 this year, denied he was being malicious as his defence.

In court papers filed, he said he took down his Facebook post after three days on Nov. 10.

This was after he was told to do so by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Leong also argued that the article was "a matter of public interest... whether or not it was correct".

This was so as it dealt with how Singapore and PM Lee had become targets of the investigation into 1MDB.

Leong also said publicly in December 2018 that he was "bewildered" as to why PM Lee is suing him.

Top photo via Lee Hsien Loong Facebook & Leong Sze Hian Facebook