Blogger Leong Sze Hian pays PM Lee $262k for defamation after crowdfunding effort

Mr Leong Sze Hian was sued for sharing an article falsely linking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Malaysia's 1MDB scandal.
Mr Leong Sze Hian was sued for sharing an article falsely linking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Malaysia's 1MDB scandal.PHOTO: ST

SINGAPORE - Blogger Leong Sze Hian has paid Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the sum of $262,327.22 which he owed for defamation, after raising the amount through crowdfunding.

The amount comprises $133,000 that High Court judge Aedit Abdullah had ordered Mr Leong to pay in damages, including aggravated damages, and a further $129,327.22 in costs.

Mr Leong was sued for sharing, on his Facebook page, an article from Malaysian news site The Coverage that falsely linked PM Lee to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal in Malaysia.

In March, Justice Aedit said in a written judgment that Mr Leong did so "without making any enquiries as to its truth whatsoever" and displayed "reckless disregard of whether the article was true or not".

He ruled that Mr Leong's sharing of the article amounted to publishing it, even though Mr Leong did not add any captions or commentary.

After the case was closed, Mr Leong launched an online crowdfunding campaign to help him raise funds to pay the damages and costs.

His lawyer, Mr Lim Tean of Carson Law Chambers, said Mr Leong managed to raise the full amount by last Saturday (May 15).

Mr Lim then delivered a cashier's order for the sum to PM Lee's lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers on Monday afternoon.

Earlier this month, another blogger who was sued for defaming PM Lee, Mr Roy Ngerng, raised $144,000 of the $150,000 that he owed through a similar crowdfunding effort.