| Yahoo News
June 26, 2014
By Jeanette Tan
THE office of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, June 25, spoke up in defence of letters sent by his press secretary and the country’s representative to Hong Kong to rebut articles touching on the political leader’s defamation suit against a local blogger.
In a statement posted on its website, spokespersons for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said it was “completely in order” for Lee’s press secretary, Chang Li Lin, to pen a response to an article in the Economist that referred to the defamation suit against Roy
Ngerng, who is accused of alleging the prime minister was guilty of “criminal
misappropriation” involving monies in Singapore’s social security savings system.
“When aspersions are cast on the integrity of the Prime Minister and his government’s policies, an official reply from the PM’s press
secretary is completely in order,” the statement said. “This is no different from what press secretaries in most other governments do.”
The article in the Economist summarised the defamation suit, also making reference to Singapore author Catherine Lim’s open letter to
PM Lee on public trust, while saying that Ngerng is “at the centre of a lawsuit that says much about the ways the place has changed in
recent years; and the ways it has not”.
A second story about Lim’s open letter, which criticized Lee for pursuing a defamation case against Ngerng, was published in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) on June 9, triggering a response from Singapore’s Consul-General there, asserting that trust
in the Singapore government “remains high”.
Describing the SCMP article as having “misrepresentations about Singapore”, the PMO said “it is important that our diplomatic
representative defend Singapore’s interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view”.
The PMO’s statement and letters sent by government officials to foreign media send a signal that media coverage of the unprecedented lawsuit is being closely watched by Singapore’s government, amid the
outpouring of public financial support has continued toward Ngerng’s cause.
Meanwhile, the case, which features human rights lawyer M Ravi representing Ngerng, has been fixed for a pre-trial conference on July 4.