No intention to defame PM Lee, says Roy Ngerng
Blogger Roy Ngerng tells the court he didn't know meaning of 'criminal misappropriation'
He was found in November to have defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a blog post.
Blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, 34, had suggested in the article on May 15 last year that Mr Lee misappropriated Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.
But yesterday, on the second day of a High Court hearing to assess the amount of damages he has to pay the Prime Minister, Mr Ngerng insisted that he had no intention to defame Mr Lee.
In his affidavit, the blogger, who was unrepresented after discharging his lawyer last week, said: "That was never my intention when I wrote the article complained of by the plaintiff.
"I have since learnt that the law of defamation does not look at intention of the publisher of the words."
Mr Lee's lawyer, Senior Counsel (SC) Davinder Singh, who cross-examined Mr Ngerng, pointed out that in the defamatory article, the blogger had compared Mr Lee to City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, who are accused of the criminal misappropriation of church funds.
He highlighted that Mr Ngerng had used a Channel NewsAsia chart on the CHC trial and replaced a picture of its founder Kong Hee with Mr Lee's.
In response to this, the blogger said that when he wrote the blog post, he did not know what "criminal misappropriation" meant.
He added that this was because he was not legally trained and only found out the post was defamatory after the judgment.
However, Mr Singh said that Mr Ngerng would have known the seriousness of criminal misappropriation as he had read news articles abut the CHC case.
He added: "You knew that misappropriation was a crime. (But) you have the audacity in your affidavit and in court yesterday and today to tell the court you have no intention to defame?"
Raising his voice, the blogger replied: "If I defame the Government, let the Government sue me. Do not ask the PM to sue me."
In line with this, Mr Ngerng also told the court that in his defamatory article, he had mentioned the Government, not Mr Lee.
"Stop linking every Tom, Dick and Harry to the prime minister," he said.
Mr Singh also said in court yesterday that the blogger was "so consumed" to "promote himself" as the champion for the CPF issue to Singaporeans.
In response to his, Mr Ngerng said that he does not care to promote himself.
He added: "If the Government takes care of Singaporeans, I'd be more than happy to stop writing and be happy to be a waiter or cleaner."
On Wednesday, Mr Lee's lawyers asked the court for a very high award of damages in the case, saying that Mr Ngerng's actions have been deeply and intensely malicious.
They added in their opening statement that the blogger also remains determined to damage the prime minister's reputation.
They noted that previous awards in defamation cases involving top government ministers ranged from $100,000 to $400,000.
The hearing resumes today.
Heard in court
1 (Blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, 34, laughed in the stand when Senior Counsel (SC) Davinder Singh cross-examined him yesterday)
Mr Singh: You may think it's funny that you had set out to hurt someone. You cross-examined him at length and you laughed about it.
Mr Ngerng: Do not take my laughter out of context.
Mr Ngerng, who used to work for the Health Promotion Board (HPB): I knew about it from HPB. I'm gay. I don't read Sammyboy.
2 (Upon realising that he had been taking a lot of time to answer each of Mr Singh's questions)
Mr Ngerng: I realised that I've been dragging time too much.
Justice Lee Seiu Kin: If you have made your point already, there is no point in repeating it. Just because you say it 1,000 times doesn't mean it's more true than saying it once.
3 (Mr Singh saying that Mr Ngerng's defamatory blog entry had been reposted on other websites and blogs that discuss Singapore matters)
Mr Singh: By 2013, have you known about The Online Citizen?
Mr Ngerng: Yes.
Mr Singh: By 2013, have you known about Sammyboy?