High Court orders Roy Ngerng to pay PM Lee $29,000 in costs for defamation suit

Blogger Roy Ngerng at the "Return Our CPF!" protest in Hong Lim Park on June 7, 2014. He has been ordered by the High Court to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong $29,000 in costs for the defamation suit. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Blogger Roy Ngerng at the "Return Our CPF!" protest in Hong Lim Park on June 7, 2014. He has been ordered by the High Court to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong $29,000 in costs for the defamation suit. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Blogger Roy Ngerng, who was found to have defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was on Monday ordered by the High Court to pay Mr Lee $29,000.

This amount is for the legal fees and related expenses incurred up to the conclusion of the application for summary judgment, Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin told media.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin had in November issued a summary judgment that Ngerng had defamed Mr Lee, by suggesting the prime minister had misappropriated Central Provident Fund savings.

A summary judgment means the court makes a ruling without the case going to trial, as it agrees with the applicant that the defence arguments are baseless.

Ms Chang said the dates for the subsequent hearings - which will determine the amount of damages payable to Mr Lee - are not confirmed.

She added that Mr Ngerng's lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined.

"The judge directed his lawyer to confirm whether he would be giving evidence by 30 January 2015," she said.

"PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court".

Ngerng had, in a May 15 post on his blog The Heart Truths, Ngerng compared Mr Lee to the City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders prosecuted for allegedly misusing $50 million of church funds.

In his November ruling, Justice Lee noted that the CHC case was in the public domain at the time of the blog post, and had "come to be associated with the criminal misappropriation of funds in the mind of any ordinary, reasonable person".

He also noted that, in Mr Ngerng's post, "the allegation that 'money is being misappropriated' is unconditional and unequivocal"