Singapore Blogger Crowdfunds $100,000 to Pay PM Defamation Award

A lawyer for Singapore blogger Leong Sze Hian said he raised enough cash from fellow citizens to fully cover damages awarded to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a defamation trial.

Singapore’s High Court on March 24 ordered Leong to pay S$133,000 ($98,800) to Lee for posting a link to a Malaysian news site that alleged the city-state’s leader had helped launder 1Malaysia Development Berhad funds.

Since then more than 2,000 people donated to a crowdfunding campaign on social media to raise the full amount, Lim Tean, Leong’s attorney, posted to Facebook on Monday.

“A new Singaporean has emerged,” Lim said. “Every citizen can now have the confidence that their fellow men will be their shield and bulwark against those who attempt to suppress their speech.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

The Singaporean leader, who has sued other people for defamation while in office, was personally cross-examined in court during the trial in October, and his lawyers have said the accusations are false and baseless. During the trial, Lee maintained it was his right to defend himself amid what he called a “grave attack” on his personal integrity and reputation.

Leong, in his defense, had denied he was being malicious. He removed the Facebook post, though court documents showed he didn’t comply with a letter of demand sent by Lee’s lawyers to make a public apology.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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