Blogger Roy Ngerng case: PM Lee’s press secretary issues response to Economist article

Published: 11:11 PM, June 19, 2014

SINGAPORE — The Economist has published a letter from Ms Chang Li Lin, the Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which was issued in response to an online article on the publication’s website on the case of blogger Roy Ngerng, who is being sued by Mr Lee for defamation. The letter is as follows:

SIR – I refer to the article “A butterfly on a wheel” (June 13th). You referred to an “alleged ‘serious libel’” by Roy Ngerng. This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation. After promising to apologise and to remove the post, Mr Ngerng did the opposite; he actively disseminated the libel further. This was a grave and deliberate defamation, whether it occurred online or in the traditional media being immaterial.

What is at stake is not any short-term positive or negative impact on the government, but the sort of public debate Singapore should have. When someone makes false and malicious personal allegations that impugn a person’s character or integrity, the victim has the right to vindicate his reputation, whether he is an ordinary citizen or the prime minister. The internet should not be exempt from the laws of defamation. It is perfectly possible to have a free and vigorous debate without defaming anyone, as occurs often in Singapore.

Chang Li Lin

Press secretary to the Prime Minister