Roy Ngerng, a Singaporean man and bloggervist, who used to write lengthy blog posts but eventually got sued for it, said on April 16, 2021 that he had raised S$144,389.14 via crowdfunding in nine days -- enough money to pay off at one shot all outstanding damages owed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In 2015, PM Lee was awarded S$150,000 in damages after successfully suing Ngerng for libel.
To date, Ngerng has paid PM Lee S$6,000.
He had been paying S$100 a month for the past five years.
Ngerng's fundraising campaign was launched as he is set to start paying PM Lee S$1,000 a month for the next 12 years.
The Singaporean man who is now living in Taiwan said S$1,000 amounted to about half his monthly salary.
Ngerng relying on crowdfunding momentum
Ngerng was influenced to start his own campaign following a successful fundraiser by Leong Sze Hian, a blogger and opposition politician who was most recently sued for libel by PM Lee and made to pay damages to the Singapore leader.
In April, over 11 days, Leong raised the S$133,000 sum he has to pay PM Lee.
This was after the High Court ordered on March 24 that Leong pay PM Lee S$100,000 in damages and S$33,000 in aggravated damages for defamation, plus costs.
Leong has continued to raise more money as he aims to hit another S$130,000 for legal costs and disbursements on top of what he had already raised.
So far, this second campaign by Leong has raised more than S$33,000 over just four days.
About Ngerng's case
A Singapore High Court in 2014 issued a summary judgment against Ngerng in PM Lee’s libel suit against the blogger and activist.
PM Lee sued Ngerng over a blog post that accused the prime minister of misappropriating money from the Central Provident Fund.
Ngerng sought to defend himself, but the judge ruled there was “no triable defence against the plaintiff’s claim”.
Ngerng offered S$5,000 in compensation after admitting that his post was false and without foundation.
PM Lee rejected the offer.
Prior to being sued, Ngerng had led protests at Hong Lim Park to demand the return of CPF monies to Singaporeans and decry the CPF Board as a pension institution.
Ngerng's latest donation drive has been a lot more successful than his last attempt in March 2016, which was met with significant donor fatigue.
In the last round, Ngerng managed to only raise S$420 on the first day of his campaign.
The donor fatigue then was understandable as his supporters had already given Ngerng a few hundred thousand dollars after his first public appeal in June 2014 for donations to support his legal defence fund.
That was when he was first sued by PM Lee for libel.
But the money apparently ran out within two years.
At that time in 2014, Ngerng raised more than S$72,000 from the public in four days, exceeding his S$70,000 expectation.
In all, he raised more than S$110,000 during the first round of crowdsourcing for money.
Where the money went
In February 2015, Ngerng’s previous lawyer M Ravi had a public falling out with his client.
Ravi lashed out at Ngerng, throwing shade and questioning where the public donations were.
When Ngerng was cross-examined by PM Lee’s lawyer in court in July 2015, Ngerng said that S$70,000 had been paid to Ravi.
Another S$36,000 was used to pay Lee’s lawyers in costs for the summary judgment, as well as the Queen’s Counsel application.
The remaining money was used to pay Ngerng’s third lawyer George Hwang, with Ngerng receiving an additional £5,000 (S$10,500) from London-based human rights organisation Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) to fund the case.
Ngerng and Ravi then appeared to have kissed and made up by September 2015, as they ran together in the six-person Ang Mo Kio GRC team contesting under the Reform Party banner in the General Election 2015.
In March 2016, following a decisive loss at GE2015, the donations to Ngerng was reduced to a trickle.
Top photo via Roy Ngerng