Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) sues Blogger Leong Sze Hian who counter sues: LHL’s estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang donates to the Blogger’s defence fund!

27 December 2018


Leong Sze Hian denies embellishing article, accuses PM Lee of abusing court process

Blogger Leong Sze Hian has filed a defence and countersuit against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, claiming PM Lee’s defamation suit against him for sharing a post on his Facebook page is an abuse of the process of the court.

In court papers posted online yesterday, Mr Leong’s lawyer claimed that what he did was no more than what thousands of others had done in sharing the offending article – which said PM Lee had helped launder money from Malaysia’s embattled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Mr Leong’s lawyer, Mr Lim Tean, also argued that the article on how Singapore and PM Lee had become targets of the investigation into 1MDB was “a matter of public interest… whether or not it was correct”. Mr Lim, from Carson Law Chambers, has recently set up new opposition party People’s Voice.

PM Lee’s lawyers said the article’s allegations were “false and baseless”, and it was clear Mr Leong had published the post “maliciously and to damage our client”.
The Coverage article was described as “fake news and clearly libellous” by Singapore’s High Commission in Malaysia on Nov 7. Mr Leong posted it the same day.
In response to media queries, PM Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin said the matter is before the courts and PM Lee will continue to take legal advice on developments.
Mr Leong, in his defence, denies he was being malicious, saying he was aware of how 1MDB funds had been laundered through Singapore bank accounts, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore noted this had affected Singapore’s reputation as a clean financial hub.
“He therefore saw no reason to disbelieve that statement that the Singapore Government was one of the key investigative targets of 1MDB investigators and he considered it… a matter of public interest that this was being reported to be so, whether or not it was correct,” said Mr Leong’s court papers.
The papers further said that after he posted the article, Mr Leong saw the Singapore Government considered the article “fake news”.
He also knew Facebook, The Coverage and The States Times Review had all refused to take the article down, but he took down his Facebook post on Nov 10 after being told to do so by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Mr Leong’s “only involvement in this matter has been to make available the article in The Coverage on his Facebook page without embellishment or comment for less than three days”.
“The plaintiff has picked upon a prominent government critic who did no more than thousands of others in order to send a wider message to the population not to question the role of the Singapore Government in the 1MDB scandal, particularly ahead of the trial of Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, and a likely general election in Singapore.”


Individuals have begun to crowdfund for Leong’s Defence Fund and the prime minister’s estranged younger brother, Hsien Yang, was the first to donate towards the fund.

Blogger Leong Sze Hian has filed his defence and counterclaim yesterday against a defamation lawsuit brought by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, arguing that it is an “abuse of the process of the court.”

Leong is represented by lawyer and opposition party leader Lim Tean of Carson Law Chambers.

The libel suit was filed against Leong on November 12, after he shared an article alleging that Lee had helped Malaysia’s former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak to launder money from the country’s state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

A pre-trial conference for the case is expected to take place on Jan 7.

The article, “Breaking News: Singapore Lee Hsien Loong Becomes 1MDB’s Key Investigation Target – Najib Signed Several Unfair Agreements With Hsien Loong In Exchange for Money Laundering,” was originally published by online site States Times Review on November 5 and picked up by Malaysian website The Coverage on Nov 7.

Leong shared The Coverage’s post on his Facebook that same day, without any accompanying caption.

In a statement of claim, Lee’s lawyers from law firm Drew and Napier noted that Leong’s public post and the article “contain allegations that are highly defamatory of our client.”

Leong said in his defence that the post, which was made on or about 6.16pm on November 7, was only up for three days before he removed it at 7.30am on November 10. This was because he received a takedown notice from the Infocomm and Media Development Authority.

He also filed a counterclaim that the libel suit is an “abuse of the process of the court” because it is “not a real and substantial tort.”

Leong pointed out that both the States Times Review and The Coverage – which published the article – have “significant circulations and readerships” that outstrip those of his Facebook page.

Government leaders had also come out to dismiss the article as fake news, he noted.

As such, the matter was already in public domain and his only involvement was to make available the article in The Coverage on his Facebook page “without embellishment or comment” for less than three days, Leong said.

Furthermore, his Facebook post on the article did not gain much traction, he added.

It received only 22 reactions, five comments and 18 shares, which Leong described as “minimal and inconsequential.”

He argued that “no damage could have been caused in the eyes of the very few people who read” the post, and that Lee’s libel claim “cannot be said to be necessary.”


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