The Supreme Court hearing to assess the damages that blogger Roy Ngerng has to pay to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation entered its second day on Thursday (Jul 2).
The first day of the hearing on Wednesday saw Mr Lee taking the stand for about six hours for cross-examination by Mr Ngerng. The blogger was unrepresented in court, having discharged his lawyer last week.
On Wednesday, Mr Lee's lawyers called for "a very high award of damages", on account of Mr Ngerng's "malice and continuing attacks".
"The court has consistently awarded substantial damages in cases where false allegations of criminal conduct were made in the office of Prime Minister," said the lawyers said in their opening statement. "The plaintiff respectfully asks that the court expresses, in the strongest terms, its indignation at the defendant's conduct. The case for a very high award of damages, including aggravated damages, is compelling."
Mr Ngerng, a former healthcare programme coordinator at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, had written a blogpost last May comparing the Prime Minister's usage of CPF monies to the City Harvest Church leaders' alleged misuse of church funds. In his blog, he charged that Mr Lee did so via the Government’s investment arms, Temasek Holdings and GIC.
He was ordered by the court to no longer publish any assertions that Mr Lee was misappropriating CPF monies. He was also ordered to pay Mr Lee S$29,000 for legal fees and related expenses that were borne leading up to the application for the summary judgment.
The blogger later wrote in a blogpost that although the injunction was in place, he would continue to speak up for CPF and other issues.
His application for a Queen's Counsel to take on his case was also rejected by the High Court on Jun 11, after Justice Steven Chong said that the appointed QC had no expertise in Singapore-specific defamation issues. Mr Ngerng was ordered to pay costs of S$6,000 for the dismissed application.