Leong Sze Hian Has To Pay PM Lee $133K In Damages For Defamation

In 2019, financial advisor and blogger Leong Sze Hian was sued by PM Lee Hsien Loong over an article he shared on Facebook linking the Singaporean leader to the 1MDB scandal.

PM Lee Was Asked Why He Only Sued Leong Sze Hian, Says Defendant’s Post Had Wider Reach

On Wednesday (24 Mar), the courts ordered him to pay PM Lee $133,000 in damages for defamation.

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Judge says Leong Sze Hian didn’t verify information in the article

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Justice Aedit Abdullah arrived at the conclusion that the article Mr Leong shared suggested that PM Lee was, “at the very least, involved in serious and dishonest criminal activity”.

The judge also said that Mr Leong shared the article linking PM Lee to the 1MDB scandal without verifying the information.

In response, Mr Leong and his lawyer Lim Tean questioned why PM Lee didn’t file a lawsuit under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) instead, should the article prove untrue.

Rejecting their arguments, the judge explained that POFMA and the law of defamation are different — the former concerns falsehoods that may damage public confidence in the Government and its agencies, while the latter addresses harm to one’s reputation.

Comparing the case to that involving Mr Ngerng in 2016, the judge said that the extent of malice in Mr Leong’s case wasn’t as severe.

However, he said that the statement made Mr Leong made was worse.

In the end, the court ordered Mr Leong to pay PM Lee $133,000 for defamation, comprising $100,000 in general damages and $33,000 in aggravated damages.

Shared article on Facebook suggesting PM Lee laundered money

On 7 Nov 2018, Mr Leong shared an article by The Coverage – a Malaysian news site – on Facebook with no accompanying caption.

The article claimed that PM Lee had helped then-Malaysian PM Najib launder money from 1MDB.

The Facebook post was up on Mr Leong’s page for 3 days before he removed it on 10 Nov 2018 upon receiving a notice from IMDA.

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Even so, he allegedly insisted the article’s claims were true long after removing the post.

Hope issues will be resolved between those involved

As the trial has extended over 2 years, we’re glad that the court has arrived at a verdict on the controversial matter.

Hopefully, the case will finally be put to rest, and that any issues between those involved will be resolved.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and YouTube.