Blogger Roy Ngerng has turned heads by raising over $70,000 within five days for his legal defense fund. The regrettable catch-22 over this matter is that it really seems like his donors don’t seem to understand what exactly they’re donating their hard earned money to.
A quick glance down the donor messages that Roy has posted seem to indicate that his supporters are basically doing so as a way to flip the proverbial bird at the Prime Minister and the concept behind CPF. This essentially means that his supporters are much too engrossed in their own personal vendetta at the PAP to understand or even care that Roy is being sued for calling the Prime Minister a corrupt official without proof.
Yes, our constitution guarantees all Singaporeans the right to free speech. But many people seem to forget that saying something…or rather claiming something without proof doesn’t necessarily mean they are correct. Free speech champions seem to forget that this isn’t America. Any person in their right mind knows that they cannot go around openly and baselessly allege that someone in Singapore is a crook and come out unscathed.
Just a quick recap –Roy’s original article, “Where Your CPF Money is Going: Learning from the City Harvest Trial”, Roy clearly and unequivocally insinuated that PM Lee, his wife Ho Ching, DPM Tharman and the GIC/Temasek management had embezzled our CPF money.
Roy clearly claimed that PM Lee was corrupted and had used Singaporeans’ money to further enrich himself. In doing so Roy crossed a line was thus served by PM Lee’s lawyers.
Even then Roy exaggerated. PM Lee’s lawyers had sent him a cease and desist letter, which said that PM Lee would sue Roy if he did not apologize and remove his offending post. Roy used the opportunity to muddy the water even more by saying he was being sued. If Roy really was being sued there and then the lawyer’s letter would have just said we will see you in court instead of basically giving Roy a way out to avoid going to court by apologizing etc. Roy did post an apology as asked. But in the same breathe he also called for Singaporeans to attend the Return our CPF protest on June 7 and announced that he will continue to fight for all of us.
Roy then posted an “exposé” about the truth about our CPF and a youtube video meant as a companion for the ” exposé”. He also concurrently asked for extensions on decisions he was supposed to take and announce regarding the entire fiasco.
Roy eventually apologizes and publicly admits he had defamed PM Lee and acquiesced to the Prime Minister by removing his offending posts. However it turns out Roy lied about removing the offending posts when it is revealed that he had simply privatized them and sent emails to representatives of the media telling them how they could access the posts. The worst part is that he did all this while continuing to claim that he was the victim in this case.
Naturally this caused PM Lee to reject Roy’s $5000 offer of damages. Roy then essentially says to PM Lee’s lawyers that he will see them in court. Which leads us back to Roy having to raise funds for his legal defense fund.
Here’s the problem with Roy’s defense strategy: Firstly, by apologizing, Roy has basically admitted he defamed the Prime Minister.
Second: As such there won’t be a big trial where Roy will have to essentially provide evidence to support his claim. There won’t even be any back and forth arguments about what CPF really is etc. What is basically going to happen is that the lawyers for the Plaintiff and Defendant will be arguing about how much the Plaintiff, PM Lee, is entitled to in damages. There will be no trial and as such the anti G crowd are not going to get see what they were all itching for: CPF on trial. Roy has basically ensured that he will at least be paying a six-figure sum in damages.
Third: The money that Roy raised for this legal defense fund is meant to be his lawyer’s fees. Which his lawyer is perfectly entitled to because he can’t be working on a case of this magnitude on a pro bono basis. God only knows how Roy is going to eventually pay up when the judge decides on how much Roy will have to pay PM Lee in damages. Will the anti G crowd once again rally behind Roy and donate more money to help him pay the damages? Only time will tell.
We will all do well to remember that the Prime Minister is also a human being like the rest of us and so he is also entitled to defend himself against baseless allegations. To paraphrase a friend: “Like everyone else, PM Lee is entitled to face his tormentor and call them out. Roy’s problem is that he essentially chose to “bully” the one person in Singapore who is more than capable of standing up for himself.” Singaporeans wouldn’t even be using Roy’s fiasco as a talking point right now if he had decided to libel another ordinary citizen.