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Blogger uses crowdfunding to fight PM’s defamation suit

AFP | Monday, Jun 2, 2014

He is however requesting that the Monday 5pm deadline to write in with an offer of damages and costs be extended to Wednesday 5pm instead.

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean blogger sued for damages by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday he had successfully raised fees for his legal defence in just four days through crowdfunding.

Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, a government health worker who posts comments on social issues, said 1,104 people had so far contributed more than S$72,000, exceeding his target of S$70,000 when he launched the campaign Friday.

Ngerng published the transaction history of his bank account on his crowdfunding platform. Many of the donors registered comments criticising Lee and opposing the use of libel suits to silence government critics.

"Donations were mostly of small denominations, and ranged from one cent to two thousand dollars," Ngerng, 33, told AFP.

Lee filed the defamation suit on Thursday in the High Court, where the typical minimum value of claims for damages is S$250,000.

The prime minister alleged that a May 15 post by Ngerng contained statements accusing him of "criminal misappropriation" of public funds.

Lee had earlier rejected an apology and dismissed as "derisory" a compensation offer of S$5,000 from Ngerng. The court will have the final say on the amount to be awarded.

A pre-trial conference has been set for July 4.

Lee's lawyer said the post had suggested that the prime minister, who is the chairman of state investment agency GIC, "is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the Central Provident Fund (CPF)." GIC manages more than US$100 billion of the city-state's foreign reserves. The CPF is the state pension fund.

Ngerng said Monday that for now, he would not "actively solicit for more funds as the target we set has been reached" but indicated he may seek help paying any damages awarded to Lee.

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