Blogger Roy Ngerng ordered to pay PM Lee S$29,000 in total costs for court proceedings

Blogger Roy Ngerng ordered to pay PM Lee S$29,000 in total costs for court proceedings
Blogger Roy Ngerng (left) leaving the Supreme Court with his lawyer M Ravi on Jan 12, 2015. Photo: Wee Teck Hian
Published: 6:39 PM, January 12, 2015
Updated: 1:00 AM, January 13, 2015

SINGAPORE — Blogger Roy Ngerng has been ordered by the High Court to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong S$29,000 in total costs for court proceedings up until the summary judgment issued in November that deemed he had defamed Mr Lee.

This amount is for legal fees and related expenses incurred by Mr Lee, and does not include the damages to be awarded, which will be assessed by the High Court at a later date.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin made the order in a closed-door hearing lasting three hours today (Jan 12) with lawyers from both sides present. Senior Counsel Davinder Singh represents Mr Lee, while Mr M Ravi and Mr Eugene Thuraisingam represent Ngerng.

Mr Lee’s lawyers had sought S$40,000 in costs, while Ngerng’s lawyers had sought S$13,000.

Separately facing charges for public nuisance and organising a demonstration without approval — arising from a Hong Lim Park march last September that disrupted a charity carnival held on an adjacent lawn — Ngerng waited outside the court chamber today with several supporters and entered briefly towards the end of the hearing. He said he was quite pleased with the outcome.

Mr Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin said in response to media queries: “At the hearing today, the Judge ordered that the total costs to be paid by the Defendant to the Plaintiff be fixed at S$29,000. This amount is for the legal fees and related expenses incurred up to the conclusion of the application for summary judgement. The dates for the subsequent hearings are not confirmed.

“Mr Ngerng’s lawyer indicated at the hearing that Mr Ngerng did not want to be cross-examined. The judge directed his lawyer to confirm whether he would be giving evidence by 30 January 2015. PM Lee stands ready to be cross-examined, a position he has earlier communicated to the Court.”

Mr Ravi, however, told reporters after the hearing that his client would likely take the stand, as would several lawyers from Mr Singh’s firm Drew & Napier.

Justice Lee had ruled in his summary judgment that Ngerng, 34, had defamed Mr Lee, 62, in a blog post last May alleging misappropriation of money paid by Singaporeans into the Central Provident Fund. Some words and images in the May 15, 2014, post, titled Where Your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial, suggest Mr Lee is guilty of criminal misappropriation of CPF money, the judge ruled.

Mr Lee began the defamation lawsuit in May and applied in July for the court to grant a summary judgment on the basis that Ngerng had no defence to his defamation claim.