The case in two minutes: Lee Hsien Loong vs Roy Ngerng

Roy Ngerng (centre, right) speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court building.
Roy Ngerng (centre, right) speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court building.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - A High Court hearing to assess the sum of damages that blogger Roy Ngerng, 34, is to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation enters its third day today. Here is a brief rundown of the case, which is the first defamation suit by a political leader for online postings:

What the case is about

A post by Mr Ngerng, who blogs on The Heart Truths, in May last year has been found by the High Court to be defamatory to Mr Lee in its suggestion that he had misappropriated Singaporeans' Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings. The blogger had likened Mr Lee to City Harvest Church leaders facing prosecution for alleged misuse of $50 million in church funds.

What the current hearing is about

Mr Lee's lawyers, led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, are arguing for a very high award of aggravated damages in the hearing before Justice Lee Seiu Kin, given Mr Ngerng's egregious and malicious actions and continued attacks on Mr Lee.

What PM's lawyers have argued

Mr Singh has accused Mr Ngerng of not only being insincere in his repeated apologies to Mr Lee for having defamed him, but also of exploiting the lawsuit to score political points and get more people to read his blog. Even after receiving a lawyer's letter of demand, the blogger had made "purely tactical" moves in deliberately and repeatedly perpetuating the libel, he said. And when caught out, Mr Ngerng would apologise, he added.

What Roy Ngerng is saying

Describing himself as an "unsung, part-time blogger" to show that his blog had low reach, credibility and visibility, Mr Ngerng says his blog would have hardly dented Mr Lee's reputation. He also insists that his numerous apologies to Mr Lee were sincere and unreserved.

What happens today

Mr Ngerng will return to the witness stand to be cross-examined by Mr Singh. After which, he will be allowed to have his say.

What the next step is

The judge will likely ask both parties to make submissions on their respective cases, and reserve his decision for a later date.