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Blogger Leong Sze Hian seeks to strike out PM Lee’s defamation suit

SINGAPORE — Blogger Leong Sze Hian’s lawyer is planning to file an application to the High Court by this week to strike out Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s original claim of defamation against his client.

SINGAPORE — Blogger Leong Sze Hian’s lawyer is planning to file an application to the High Court by this week to strike out Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s original claim of defamation against his client.

Mr Lim Tean of Carson Law Chambers, who is representing Mr Leong, said this to reporters on Monday (Jan 21) after a pre-trial conference, which he said was to find out how far along both parties are in litigation.

Mr Lee’s lawyers had filed an application to the courts earlier this month to strike out Mr Leong’s counterclaim.

They will return to High Court on Jan 31 for another pre-trial conference, and both parties’ striking-out applications will be heard by a judge on Feb 25. In response to media queries, Mr Lee’s press secretary Chang Li Lin said that "as happens in some other cases, the parties agreed that the application will be heard by a High Court Judge".

ABOUT THE CASE

Mr Lee filed a libel suit against Mr Leong in November last year after the latter shared an article on Facebook alleging that Mr Lee had helped Malaysia’s former premier Najib Razak to launder money from the country’s state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The article, titled "Breaking News: Singapore Lee Hsien Loong Becomes 1MDB's Key Investigation Target — Najib Signed Several Unfair Agreements With Hsien Loong In Exchange for Money Laundering", was originally published by online site States Times Review on Nov 5 and carried on Malaysian website The Coverage on Nov 7.

Mr Leong shared The Coverage’s version on his Facebook page that same day without any accompanying caption.

In a statement of claim, Mr Lee’s lawyers from Drew and Napier noted that Mr Leong’s public post and the article "contain allegations that are highly defamatory of our client".

In December last year, Mr Leong then filed his defence and counterclaim, arguing that Mr Lee’s suit against him was an abuse of court processes.

Mr Leong also pointed out that the States Times Review and The Coverage had “significant circulations and readerships” that outstripped his Facebook page, and that his own post did not gain much traction.

After Mr Lee’s lawyers filed an application earlier this month to strike out Mr Leong’s counterclaim, Ms Chang said in response to media queries that it was “on the grounds that it has no basis in law and is completely hopeless”.

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