Lee Hsien Yang Must Pay Damages To Shanmugam & Vivian For Defamation, Stop Publishing Further Allegations

Lee Hsien Yang Loses Defamation Suit Brought Against Him, Damages Will Be Assessed Later

Mr Lee Hsien Yang has ended up on the losing end of a defamation lawsuit filed against him by two Cabinet ministers.

A High Court judge has ruled that he must thus pay damages to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

The case stems from a Facebook post that Mr Lee made in relation to the Ridout Road saga.

Source: K Shanmugam Sc on Facebook, Lee Hsien Yang on Facebook & Vivian Balakrishnan on Facebook

He has also been barred from publishing further allegations.

Court rules in favour of 2 ministers

In a written judgment on Monday (27 Nov), High Court judge Goh Yi Han ruled in favour of the two ministers.

He said the ministers had met the requirements for a default judgment against the defendant, i.e. Mr Lee.

This is after the defendant did not respond to their defamation suits against him.

The failure to respond means Mr Lee “has not exercised his right of contesting the claims”, the judge said.

Lee Hsien Yang must pay damages & costs

Since the judgment has gone against Mr Lee, he will have to pay damages to Mr Shanmugam and Dr Vivian.

He must also pay the costs of the two legal actions.

The amount to be paid will be assessed at a later hearing, the judgment said.

Barred from publishing or disseminating Ridout Road allegations

The latest judgment followed an earlier court decision on 2 Nov.

In that ruling, an injunction was granted restraining Mr Lee from publishing or disseminating the false and defamatory allegations.

It referred to a Facebook post that he made on 23 July over the Ridout Road saga.

Ridout Road rentals

Source: Google Maps

According to the judgment, his post alleged that the ministers “acted corruptly and for personal gain”.

‘Strong reasons’ to believe that Lee would repeat allegations

In his 27 Nov judgment, Justice Goh said there were “strong reasons” for him to conclude that Mr Lee would repeat his defamatory allegations.

He noted that Mr Lee had refused to take down the 23 July Facebook post.

Rather, Mr Lee continued to draw attention to the post and invite readers in Singapore to read it, via a series of Facebook posts made on 25 , 29 and 31 July.

Also, he repeatedly published Facebook posts on 4 Sep, 16 Sep and 5 Oct that updated the public on the proceedings.

By doing so, he drew attention to the proceedings and therefore to the post, the judgment said.

Thus, there was “good reason” to believe that Mr Lee would “repeat the defamatory allegations by continuing to draw attention to them and/or publish further defamatory allegations against the claimants”.

Lee Hsien Yang removes statements from Facebook

Days after the 2 Nov injunction, Mr Lee posted on Facebook on 10 Nov, saying that he had been informed of the court order.

Thus, he was “compelled to remove the statements” from his Facebook page.

He continued to deny that his post said what the ministers said it did.

Defamation & damages saga started with post by Lee Hsien Yang

The saga started when Mr Lee, the younger son of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, received a Correction Direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) over his 23 July Facebook post.

Mr Shanmugam and Dr Vivian subsequently said they would sue Mr Lee if he didn’t apologise for the claims. The ministers had been cleared by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) over the Ridout Road saga after an investigation.

However, Mr Lee didn’t apologise.

He and his wife Suet Fern left Singapore after the police asked them to attend an interview in June 2022 for a separate case of giving false evidence.

In September, Mr Shanmugam and Dr Vivian commenced defamation proceedings against Mr Lee.

Since he is not in Singapore, papers were served to him over Facebook Messenger. On 16 Sep, he confirmed in a Facebook post that he had received them.

While he had 21 days to respond to the claims, he did not do so.

Mr Lee and his wife, Suet Fern, haven’t returned to Singapore since they left.

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Featured image adapted from K Shanmugam Sc on Facebook, Lee Hsien Yang on Facebook & Vivian Balakrishnan on Facebook.

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