The past few days have left me with a very heavy heart. What I don’t understand is why Lee Hsien Loong seems to be so adamant in pursuing legal proceedings against Roy Ngerng, right to the bitter end. The apology has been made, the offending article has been retracted. But the apology is rejected as ‘insincere’, and suddenly, with what looks like extortionate opportunism, additional articles which make no mention of the PM are asked to be removed as well.

Why, Lee Hsien Loong? You have, at your disposal, an entire press juggernaut that can and will lay out your government’s position. There is a government website, ‘factually’, whose very purpose is to rebut and refute what you claim are unsubstantiated rumours and falsehoods. Even on Roy’s website, there are comments by those who take issue with his data and findings and calculations–and as far as I am concerned these have not been censored by him. In a contest of ideas, the crackpot ones will die a natural death. Don’t you know that you make your government look hopelessly desperate when it has to high-handedly resort to litigation to win an information war?

It just seems to me like your thirst for blood has made you lose the plot. You talk about repairing your reputation as someone who is incorruptible but do you have any idea what reputation you are gaining with this relentless single-mindedness? You claim injury as the victim of defamation, but do you think the public can discern the victim in someone who has the deep pockets to hire a top lawyer, and who dismisses a compensation offer of $5000–a considerable sum to many of us–as ‘derisory’? And don’t you know that at some point an inability to forgive–even when the other is already groveling–hints at the moral corruption of a sadist and bully?

I actually feel sorry for you, Hsien Loong. Because to me this will be the reputation you have earned for yourself: as someone who struggled to match the competence of his father, and yet only managed to equal him in his vindictiveness. People used to call Goh Chok Tong the seat-warmer PM, the stodgy but solid interim as we waited for you to grow up. But it looks like you never did.

Alfian Sa’at

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