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Singapore Blogger Tops Funding Goal to Defend Against Lee’s Suit

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore's prime minister. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

A Singapore blogger who faces a defamation lawsuit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he raised more than S$70,000 ($55,700) in four days through crowdfunding to pay for his legal costs.

Donations climbed to S$72,043.91 as of yesterday, exceeding his target of S$70,000, Roy Ngerng said in a blog post. Lee sued Ngerng over a May 15 article, and the blogger said his apology and offer of S$5,000 for damages were declined. Chang Li Lin, Lee’s press secretary, declined to comment about Ngerng’s funding efforts when contacted by phone.

Ngerng’s case comes as the government grapples with how to regulate comments made online, with plans including the introduction of anti-harassment laws to curb cyber-bullying. More than a thousand people contributed to Ngerng’s appeal for funds for the first lawsuit of its kind by a Singapore politician against a blogger, according to his lawyer M. Ravi.

“As far as I know, this is the first time a political leader in Singapore is suing a blogger,” Ravi said when contacted by phone today.

Ngerng was asked to apologize to the prime minister and remove the article which “impugns his character, credit and integrity,” according to a copy of a letter by Davinder Singh, Lee’s lawyer, which was posted on Ngerng’s website on May 19.

Ngerng’s apology wasn’t genuine and was instead used “to raise his public profile, garner support and sympathy and renew his attack” against Lee, according to a copy of another letter from Lee’s lawyer posted on Ngerng’s blog on May 26.

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