S'porean man sued by PM Lee crowdfunds another S$129,327 to pay disbursements & legal costs before May 17 deadline

Deadline for payment was on May 17.

Nyi Nyi Thet | May 16, 2021, 09:51 AM

Politician and blogger Leong Sze Hian posted an update on May 15, 2021 announcing that the entire sum of S$262,327, including disbursements and legal cost, from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's defamation suit against him has been raised through crowdfunding.

The High Court had 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.

11 days later on April 4, Leong shared on his Facebook page that he raised more than the required amount in damages, to the tune of S$133,082.

He received donations from 2,065 people, with the biggest contribution from a single donor being S$5,000.

The smallest contribution was S$2.91.

A lot of donors gave S$13, S$20 and S$50 each.

You can see his post below:

Legal costs and disbursements amounting to S$129,327 (S$50,000 for legal costs, and S$79,322.22 for disbursements) were also sought.

For this, Leong posted a Facebook post on April 15 announcing another crowdfunding attempt to this time cover the legal costs and disbursements.

On May 10, Leong posted another update on the case.
According to another Facebook update on May 12 by Leong, the deadline for the payment was set at 5pm on May 17.
About a month from the crowdfunding post for legal costs and disbursements, Leong put up the aforementioned post announcing that the full S$262,327 for the defamation suit, cost and disbursements had been raised.


Back in November 2018, Leong shared an article from Malaysian website The Coverage on his Facebook page.

The post by Leong had no accompanying caption.

The article contained false claims about PM Lee and the 1MDB investigation.

The Coverage provided a link to something it called Straights Review, which led to an article published on Nov. 5, 2018 by anti-establishment website, States Times Review (STR).

STR did not provide any kind of evidence for its claims.

The Singapore High Commission in Malaysia called the claims "fake" and "clearly libellous".

Impact of article discussed

According to The Straits Times, the article shared by Leong was visible to the public on his Facebook page from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10, 2018.

Justice Aedit Abdullah found that the false claims suggested that PM Lee was, "at the very least, involved in serious and dishonest criminal activity", and that Leong could not "reasonably claim that the defamatory words did not impugn character".

Leong, the judge said, had "published" the article as his post was hyperlinked to it, and he made it accessible as it was part of his Facebook post.

The judge also said that the link to the article, along with a headline and photo, was the only substantive content of the post and it would therefore be artificial to draw a "bright-line" distinction between the article and post.

He added:

"The entirety of his message in the post centred around the link to the article, and he was at the very least drawing attention to the article and providing access to it in the post.

Further, an interpretation that the defendant was endorsing the content of the article would cohere with his own self-described role as a ‘staunch government critic’. This descriptor is present on... the defendant’s own website."

Top image from Leong Sze Hian's Facebook page.