Singapore’s PM Lee ‘will testify in court’ if suit against TOC editor goes to trial |
SINGAPORE, Sept 11 — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will testify in court if the defamation lawsuit he filed against the editor of The Online Citizen (TOC) goes to trial, said his spokesperson yesterday.
The prime minister’s press secretary added in response to media queries that PM Lee’s siblings — Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling — “can decide, together with (TOC editor Terry Xu), whether they too will testify, and repeat the allegations in court.”
“The court can then establish the facts,” said PM Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin, who reiterated that the prime minister filed the suit “because the allegations are completely false.”
Earlier yesterday, Xu put up a post on Facebook to say that he will be contesting the lawsuit. He added that he will be representing himself “after much deliberation and consideration.”
He also said that as a Singapore citizen, he “would like to have the opportunity to ask my prime minister — straight in his face — why he choose to sue me for repeating allegations made by his two siblings and not them, for making the same allegations back in 2017.”
According to Xu, the pre-trial conference has been scheduled for October 15.
PM Lee’s lawyers had launched the lawsuit against an article published last month by TOC as it had contained “false and baseless” allegations, such as the statement that the Prime Minister misled his late father into thinking their Oxley Road property had been gazetted by the Government.
Outlining their grounds for the lawsuit, the lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers LLC said in a statement of claim — a copy of which was seen by TODAY — that PM Lee “has been gravely injured in his character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt”.
The statement and a writ of summons were served on Xu at his home on Thursday (Sept 5) by the lawyers.
PM Lee is embroiled in a dispute with his siblings over the fate of their 38 Oxley Road family home after the death of their father, Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
On August 15, TOC first published the article titled “PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members.” A link to the article was also posted on its Facebook page.
Chang issued a letter to TOC on September 1, demanding that it remove the article and publish an apology. She called it a “scurrilous” attack on the prime minister’s character and integrity.
Chang said in the letter that the article and Facebook post repeated several false allegations that were levelled against PM Lee by Lee Wei Ling.
The article was later taken down but the Facebook post remained up.
Xu responded on September 4 to say he was “of the opinion” that the article was not defamatory and he would not comply with PM Lee’s request.
He argued that he was “merely republishing the words uttered by (PM Lee’s) siblings.” The article was then reposted on TOC. — TODAY