Hearing to grant PM Lee summary judgment set before High Court Judge

SINGAPORE - The hearing to decide if Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong should be granted summary judgment in his defamation suit against blogger Roy Ngerng is fixed for 18 Sep before a High Court Judge.

This will decide whether the court will rule in his favour without going through a full-blown trial.

A High Court Judge, rather than a registrar as is usually the case, will preside over the full-day hearing, Mr Ngerng's lawyer M. Ravi told reporters after a pre-trial conference on Thursday.

Tht is because both sides "have indicated they will appeal" if the court rules against them, he said.

Mr Ngerng, 33, is being sued for a May 15 blogpost alleging that Mr Lee "criminally misappropriated" Central Provident Fund(CPF) savings.

A timeline was also laid out during the pre-trial conference. Mr Ngerng's affidavit in reply to the request for summary judgment must be filed by Aug 1. If Mr Lee has a reply, he must submit it by Aug 22.

Both sides then file and exchange their arguments on Sep 4, and then on Sep 11, exchange their replies.

Mr Lee had applied to the High Court last Thursday to rule in his favour without going through a trial.

In the application, Mr Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, wrote: "The defendant has no defence to the plaintiff's claims and the only issue to be determined is damages."

He asked the court to decide how much damages Mr Lee should receive, and asked for a ban on the continued publication or dissemination of the offending blog post and "other allegation to the same effect".

Mr Ravi had last week told the media that he would be making "submissions to vigorously resist (Mr Lee's) application for summary judgment".

In response to media queries, Mr Lee's press secretary Chang Li Lin said on Thursday that Mr Ngerng had admitted to falsely defaming the PM. As the legal process has commenced, the Courts will decide on the matter, she said.

The Singapore Mediation Centre has as a standard procedure sent a letter to both parties inviting them to resolve the matter amicably.

Mr Ravi said yesterday: "I don't think either of us are interested".

Mr Ngerng, who waited outside the chambers in the Supreme Court on Thursday, is now working part-time at his father's carrot cake stall in Ang Mo Kio.

"I will continue writing about CPF in the meantime, and (Mr Ravi and I) will fight against summary judgment, to have a full-blown trial," he said.