Blogger Roy Ngerng pays $30,000 in costs over defamation case

Roy Ngerng has raised more than $12,000 in his second public call for funds to help him pay for costs and damages.
Roy Ngerng has raised more than $12,000 in his second public call for funds to help him pay for costs and damages.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Blogger Roy Ngerng on Wednesday paid part of the amount he owes over his defamation case, partially fulfilling a settlement agreement he has with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Over the past two days, he has raised more than $12,000, in his second public call for funds to help him pay for costs and damages.

Mr Lee's press secretary, Ms Chang Li Lin, said in response to media queries that Mr Lee's lawyer has received $30,000 from Mr Ngerng.

The sum covers costs for a three-day hearing in July last year held to decide on the damages due to Mr Lee. Mr Ngerng had cross-examined the Prime Minister himself.

The blogger was found to have defamed Mr Lee over a blog post alleging that Mr Lee had misappropriated the Central Provident Fund savings of Singaporeans.

High Court Judge Lee Seiu Kin, in a judgement last December, had ordered the blogger to pay Mr Lee $150,000 for defamation, saying that it was likely the blogger "cynically defamed" Mr Lee to increase viewership of his blog, The Heart Truths.

Mr Lee has agreed to allow Mr Ngerng to pay this sum in instalments over a period of 17 years.

Mr Ngerng will start by paying $100 a month from April 1 this year. From April 1 2021, the amount 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.

In several blog posts over the past two days, Mr Ngerng listed the amounts he has raised in his fund-raising drives, on of which is ongoing.

He also accounted for how he had spent $127,000, which he raised in 2014 from individual donors and organisations. He said he has spent $122,000 of it.

Of this sum, $50,000 had gone to his first lawyer, Mr M. Ravi.

Another $30,000 went towards paying for his second lawyer, Mr George Hwang, whom he discharged before the hearing to assess damages.

The blogger said he also paid $35,000 to Mr Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, which covers the costs for a hearings related to the case.

One was a hearing for a summary judgement - a procedure where a judgement is sought without going for a full trial - which Mr Lee obtained against Mr Ngerng. The other was a hearing to decide if Mr Ngerng can hire a Queen's Counsel from Britain to represent him.

Mr Ngerng said he also paid for court filing fees and costs, which he estimated to be about $7,000.