PM Lee Hsien Loong will testify in court if defamation suit against TOC editor goes to trial

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is suing Mr Terry Xu, the chief editor of The Online Citizen (TOC), for defamation over an Aug 15 article published by TOC and a Facebook post.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is suing Mr Terry Xu, the chief editor of The Online Citizen (TOC), for defamation over an Aug 15 article published by TOC and a Facebook post.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will testify in court if his defamation suit against the chief editor of The Online Citizen (TOC) goes to trial.

PM Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin said this in a statement on Tuesday night (Sept 10) in response to media queries.

The Prime Minister had filed the suit against Mr Terry Xu because the allegations in an Aug 15 article published by TOC are “completely false”, she noted.

“His siblings can decide, together with Mr Xu, whether they too will testify and repeat the allegations in court,” she said, referring to PM Lee’s siblings, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling.

“The court can then establish the facts,” she added.

PM Lee is suing Mr Xu for defamation over the article and a Facebook post, which his lawyers said contained “false and baseless” allegations, including that PM Lee had misled his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, into thinking the family home in Oxley Road had been gazetted by the Government.

 
 
 
 

Lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers had served Mr Xu, 37, the writ of summons and statement of claim last Thursday.

In court documents, the lawyers said PM Lee “has been gravely injured in his character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt”.

The TOC article was titled “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”.

It had referenced a Facebook post by Dr Lee Wei Ling, in which she set out a purported sequence of events related to the 38 Oxley Road property.

Mr Xu had received a letter of demand from Ms Chang on Sept 1 to remove the offending article and Facebook post by Sept 4.

He later stated publicly that he was not going to comply with the demands.

In her Sept 1 letter, Ms Chang noted that PM Lee had given a full explanation on matters related to 38 Oxley Road in Parliament in July 2017.

She also noted he had said then that he had chosen thus far not to sue his siblings as it would further besmirch his parents’ names.

But his decision did not mean he would not ever take legal action, should this become necessary, Ms Chang said.

She added that PM Lee’s restraint should not be “misinterpreted by others as free licence to repeat and spread false and defamatory allegations against him, as the article and post have done”.

PM Lee is claiming damages, an injunction to restrain Mr Xu from publishing or disseminating the allegations, and costs.

Mr Xu said in a Facebook post on Tuesday he had filed a memorandum of appearance with the High Court earlier in the day to indicate he will contest PM Lee’s suit.

He added that he will represent himself in court.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Oct 15.

Separately, Dr Lee Wei Ling made a Facebook post on Tuesday on the 38 Oxley Road dispute, which Mr Lee Hsien Yang shared.