Blogger Roy Ngerng sued by PM raises $81,000

Mr Ngerng made his online appeal last week for help in paying his legal fees.
Mr Ngerng made his online appeal last week for help in paying his legal fees.

Blogger Roy Ngerng has received about $81,000 in donations for his legal defence against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's defamation suit over his allegations that Mr Lee had criminally misappropriated CPF savings.

The money from more than 1,000 people exceeds the $70,000 he had estimated is needed to pay for his lawyer's fees, research costs and court charges.

The 33-year-old health-care worker passed the target on Monday, five days after an online plea to people last Thursday to help pay his legal bills.

His crowdfunding effort was made on his blog The Heart Truths, in which he also gave instructions on how to transfer money to his bank account.

Yesterday, he said in a statement that the amount he received showed "unprecedented support" from Singaporeans from all walks of life. He also said the excess sum of about $11,000 will be put aside for damages and "any further expected legal fees''.

The donation lists posted daily on his blog show the donations ranged from one cent to $2,000.

The suit against Mr Ngerng stems from a May 15 blog post in which he compared a Channel NewsAsia chart detailing the relationship among City Harvest Church leaders, prosecuted for allegedly misusing about $50 million in church funds, to a chart he had created.

His chart set out the relationships among the Central Provident Fund, Mr Lee, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Temasek Holdings, GIC and other Singapore companies. His blog post, said Mr Lee's lawyer in a May 18 letter, can be understood to mean the Prime Minister, who is also chairman of state investment firm GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of CPF savings.

He was asked to remove the post immediately, apologise, and give a written offer of damages and costs. Mr Ngerng took down the post and apologised.

But in subsequent letters, Mr Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, acccused him of aggravating the "injury and distress" to the Prime Minister by repeating the libel through a video, other blog posts and e-mail.

Mr Lee also rejected his offer of $5,000 as damages last week, and began legal proceedings against him last Thursday.

Yesterday, Mr Ngerng claimed the defamation suit and his blog posts have stoked public interest in the CPF, which he said is now "discussed more greatly in the media and in Parliament".

The pre-trial conference for the case is set for July 4.

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