Blogger Roy Ngerng finishes paying PM Lee $150,000 for defamation using crowdfunding

In 2016, the High Court found that Roy Ngerng had defamed PM Lee in a 2014 blog post. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Blogger Roy Ngerng has finished paying Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the $150,000 he owed in damages for defamation, after raising most of the amount through crowdfunding.

In 2014, the High Court found that Mr Ngerng had defamed PM Lee in a blog post by alleging that PM Lee had misappropriated the Central Provident Fund savings of Singaporeans.

Mr Ngerng said in a Facebook post on Monday (May 3) that he had been paying PM Lee $100 a month from April 2016 to March this year, amounting to $6,000.

He had agreed to pay the remaining $144,000 in instalments of $1,000 a month starting from last month, which would have meant he would finish paying the sum by 2033.

Last month, Mr Ngerng started an online crowdfunding campaign to raise the outstanding sum. Some 2,000 individuals donated to the campaign and Mr Ngerng hit his goal in nine days.

This came after another blogger, Mr Leong Sze Hian, successfully raised $133,000 in a similar crowdfunding effort last month. Mr Leong had been sued by PM Lee in a separate case involving a libellous article that he shared on his Facebook page without comment, and was ordered by the High Court to pay the sum of $133,000 in March this year.

Mr Ngerng paid PM Lee $1,000 last month in accordance with the original payment schedule, while applying to the court for permission to pay the rest of the amount in a lump sum. He then transferred the remaining $143,000 on Monday.

In a letter to Mr Ngerng's lawyers seen by The Straits Times, PM Lee's lawyers confirmed they had received the amount. PM Lee is represented by lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers, while Mr Ngerng is represented by lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam LLC.

Mr Ngerng had previously turned to crowdfunding in the course of the case. In 2014, before the trial began, he raised about $127,000 to fund his legal battle. He told the court in March 2016 that he had spent $122,000 of that amount on various legal costs, including lawyers' fees.

After he was found to have defamed PM Lee, Mr Ngerng was ordered to pay $30,000 to cover the costs of the three-day hearing in 2015 to determine the damages owed to PM Lee. This was on top of the $150,000 sum for damages, which included $100,000 in damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages.

In his last update on the matter in a May 2016 blog post, Mr Ngerng said he had raised over $31,000 but added that the funds coming in had slowed.

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