Singaporean Court Orders Blogger to Pay $98,800 in Damages over PM Defamation Case

Singapore’s High Court on Wednesday ordered local blogger and financial adviser Leong Sze Hian to pay S$133,000 ($98,800) in damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for sharing an article on Facebook that links the Singaporean leader to an alleged corruption scandal.

In November 2018, Leong shared an article that was published by The Coverage – a Malaysian website – in a public post on Facebook.

In the article, Lee was accused of aiding the former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak in laundering money that was related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal.

In his written judgment, Justice Aedit Abdullah ruled on Wednesday that Leong publicly shared the article “without making any enquiries as to its truth whatsoever” and displayed “reckless disregard of whether the article was true or not.”

In his conclusion, Abdullah said that while Leong did rely on various officials to deflect the accusations made in the article, it was barely sufficient to alter the damages and impacts of the defamatory material.

“These actions and speeches did not, to my mind, reduce the harm caused to the plaintiff’s reputation for the purposes of ascertaining if there had been damage suffered in the tort of defamation,” he wrote in his conclusion. “The fact that there may be countervailing information provided or statements made does not reduce or negate a defamation.”

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