Blogger can pay damages to PM in instalments

Mr Ngerng yesterday made an appeal to the public on his site for funds to pay the costs and damages.
Mr Ngerng yesterday made an appeal to the public on his site for funds to pay the costs and damages.

But he will be given time to pay off the $150,000 only if he foots the hearing costs of $30,000 by tomorrow

Blogger Roy Ngerng will be allowed to pay the $150,000 in damages he owes to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in instalments.

Mr Ngerng, 34, had asked to be let off by paying only $36,000 out of the full amount he owes. He is supposed to pay $30,000 in costs and another $150,000 in damages to Mr Lee.

However, Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin said the Prime Minister had responded to say that Mr Ngerng had to discharge his entire debt.

But Mr Lee was prepared to give Mr Ngerng time to pay the $150,000 by instalments, provided he pay the costs immediately, she added in reply to media queries after a closed-door court hearing on the case yesterday.

"Mr Ngerng has agreed and this was recorded by the court," said Ms Chang.

Based on this arrangement, Mr Ngerng will have to pay $30,000 by tomorrow. This sum covers the costs of the three-day hearing held in July last year to assess damages due to Mr Lee.

 

Mr Ngerng had discharged his lawyer to conduct the hearing himself, and had cross-examined Mr Lee for six hours.

For the instalments, Mr Ngerng will start paying $100 a month from April 1. His lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, said that he will continue to pay this amount for the next five years until April 1, 2021, when the monthly payments will be increased to $1,000 until the full sum has been paid. He should be done paying the total sum by the year 2033.

It was also agreed that Mr Ngerng will not have to pay any interest if he makes each payment on time. Should he fail to do so, the full amount outstanding - including court judgment interest - will be payable immediately.

The interest is a default rate provided by the court, pegged at 5.33 per cent a year.

Mr Ngerng had started a fund-raising drive for his legal fees in 2014, after being sued for defamation over a blog post in which he alleged that Mr Lee had misappropriated the Central Provident Fund savings of Singaporeans.

In just a month, he raised more than $110,000. He had said that $70,000 will be set aside for his legal fees, while the rest will be used to pay the costs if he loses.

On Dec 17 last year, Mr Ngerng was ordered to pay Mr Lee $150,000 for defamation after Justice Lee Seiu Kin, in a 73-page decision, said the blogger's conduct had been malicious and that it was likely he "cynically defamed" Mr Lee to increase viewership of his blog, The Heart Truths.

The amount comprises $100,000 in general damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages.

Mr Ngerng yesterday made an appeal to the public on his site for funds to pay the costs and damages.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Blogger can pay damages to PM in instalments'. Print Edition | Subscribe