Blogger Roy Ngerng to pay $150,000 in damages to PM Lee in instalments

Roy Ngerng photographed outside the State Courts on Oct 7, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Blogger Roy Ngerng will be allowed to pay the $150,000 in damages he owes to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in instalments, his lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said in a statement on Monday (March 14).

Ngerng, 34, had asked to be let off by paying $36,000 of the $150,000 plus hearing costs, which Mr Lee rejected, his press secretary Chang Li Lin said in response to media queries.

"The Prime Minister had responded to say that Mr Ngerng had to discharge his entire debt, but that he was prepared to give Mr Ngerng time to pay the $150,000 by instalments, provided he paid the (hearing) costs immediately," she added.

"Mr Ngerng has agreed and this was recorded by the court this morning (Monday)."

Mr Thuraisingam, who started representing Ngerng on a pro bono basis from Dec 23 last year, said his client will start by paying $100 a month from April 1.

This arrangement will continue for the next five years until April 1, 2021, when the monthly payments will be increased to $1,000 until the full sum has been paid.

Ngerng should be done paying back the the total sum by the year 2033.

He need not pay any interest if he makes each payment on time; should he fail to make any one of the payments, however, the full amount outstanding - including Court Judgment interest - will be immediately payable. The interest is a default rate provided by the court, pegged at 5.33 per cent per annum.

Ngerng will also have to pay for the costs of the Assessment of Damages hearing, which was agreed at $30,000, by Wednesday (March 16).

Mr Thuraisingam revealed that a hearing was held on Monday morning for parties to make submissions and for the Judge to decide the costs payable by Ngerng to Mr Lee.

But Mr Thuraisingam, acting on behalf of Ngerng, had already agreed on the new terms with Mr Lee's lawyers late last week.

On Dec 17 last year, Ngerng was ordered to pay Mr Lee $150,000 for defamation after Justice Lee Seiu Kin, in a 73-page decision, said the blogger's conduct had been malicious and that it was likely he "cynically defamed" Mr Lee to increase viewership of his blog, The Heart Truths.

The amount comprises $100,000 in general damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages.

Mr Lee had said then that he accepted the judgment and award of the court.

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