Another development has unfolded in the ongoing Lee Hsien Yang saga, involving both Law & Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
After finding himself on the losing side of a defamation lawsuit brought against him by the two ministers, Mr Lee is now required to pay damages to Mr Shanmugam and Mr Balakrishnan.
Do you remember the Facebook comments that resulted in court papers being served to Mr Lee via Facebook message?
Lest you’re unaware, these comments were regarding his involvement in disseminating false allegations concerning the ministers’ rental of state bungalows on Ridout Road.
Defamation Case Against Lee Hsien Yang
If you have yet to come across the defamation case brought by Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan against Lee Hsien Yang, we must ask: have you not been reading the news?
On 23 July, Mr Lee posted on Facebook that these two ministers had leased colonial houses on Ridout Road through an agency with connections to one of them. Mr Lee also accused them of benefiting from state-funded renovations.
In essence, Mr Lee is insinuating there was some level of corruption, you know?
Now, put yourself in the shoes of the two Cabinet ministers who have already been cleared of corruption by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Naturally, they wouldn’t be too thrilled with such accusations.
Following these allegations, Mr Shanmugam and Dr Vivian clarified that they would take legal action against Mr Lee unless he apologised for his claims.
However, Mr Lee did not apologise.
Mr Lee and his wife departed Singapore after being requested by the police to participate in an interview in June 2022. This request was related to a separate case involving the provision of false evidence.
Shanmugam and Balakrishnan File Lawsuit Against Lee Hsien Yang
In September, Mr Shanmugam and Dr Vivian initiated defamation proceedings against Mr Lee.
Since Mr Lee resides outside Singapore, the legal documents were served via Facebook Messenger.
On 16 September, he confirmed receipt of these papers through a Facebook post.
Although he had a 21-day window to respond to the allegations, Mr Lee chose not to do so.
He and his wife have yet to return to Singapore since their departure.
On 10 November, Mr Lee made a separate Facebook post confirming that he was requested to remove the post about the allegations he made about the rentals at Ridout Road.
Lee Hsien Yang Must Pay Damages for Defamation
Mr Lee is now required to pay damages to Mr Shanmugam and Mr Balakrishnan for his defamatory comments on Facebook regarding their rental of state bungalows in Ridout Road.
The High Court has issued a default judgment in favour of the two ministers as Mr Lee failed to respond to their defamation lawsuits.
The court’s decision, released on Monday (27 November), was explained in a judgment.
Justice Goh Yihan ruled in favour of the two ministers, as Mr Lee did not intend to deny the defamation claims.
The exact amount of damages to be paid will be decided in a later hearing.
Lee Hsien Yang Restrained from Publishing or Disseminating Allegations
Justice Goh also ordered an injunction against Mr Lee to stop spreading false and defamatory statements. This includes accusations of corruption and personal gain by the ministers through preferential treatment from the Singapore Land Authority for their rentals.
In a written decision on 27 November, following his earlier court ruling on 2 November, Justice Goh granted this order because he had “strong reasons” to believe that Mr Lee would continue making defamatory remarks.
The judge pointed out that Mr Lee had refused to remove his Facebook post published on 23 July despite receiving a letter of demand from the ministers on 27 July.
This post included claims that “two ministers have leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls, felling trees and getting state-sponsored renovations”, among other things.
The judge took note of Mr Lee’s continuous reference to and promotion of his Facebook post within Singapore.
He observed that Mr Lee had also made repeated posts regarding the ongoing lawsuits, bringing attention to his statements central to the court proceedings.
In his verdict, Justice Goh concluded that the two ministers had met the criteria for a default judgment against Mr Lee.
Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan filed separate defamation lawsuits in the High Court against Mr Lee on 2 August.
For now, we’re on the edge of our seats to find out how this saga will end.
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