Singapore court orders Ex-PM Lee’s brother to pay S$400,000 for defaming ministers

SINGAPORE, May 24 (Bernama) — Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of former Singapore prime minister, has been ordered by the High Court to pay S$200,000 (S$1 = RM3.48) each to ministers K. Shanmugam and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan for defaming them about their rental of state bungalows in Ridout Road, here.

The court also directed Lee to pay S$51,000 as costs to each ministers. 

Lee is the younger brother of former Prime Minister and now Senior Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and son of the country’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Law and Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam and Foreign Minister Balakrishnan had filed separate defamation suits against Lee in the High Court in Aug 2, 2023, but was later ordered to be tried together.

The defamation suit came after Lee on July 23, 2023, posted on his Facebook page, alleging the ministers had acted corruptly by having the Singapore Land Authority give them preferential treatment.

Justice Goh Yihan in a written judgement released on Friday, said the claimants in this case are long-serving Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, public leaders and persons of the highest integrity who undoubtedly have a high standing.

Meanwhile, Goh said the defendant describe himself as a public figure, is well-known in Singapore and active on social media.

In making the judgement and awarding damages, Goh said he found the defendant’s defamatory allegations, which go towards the claimants’ personal integrity, professional reputation, honour, and core attributes of their personalities, are of the “gravest kind”.

The offending words have been published and republished to a substantial extent within Singapore, he said.

He said it is also significant that the defendant did not apologise and or remove the Facebook post despite being given an opportunity to do so. Instead, the defendant accused the claimants of making false claims and of demanding a false apology.

The judge said he also found that the defendant acted with malice in posting the offending words.

“Based on the evidence before me, I find that the defendant knew that the Offending Words were false, that he published them recklessly, and or without considering or caring whether they are true or not,” he said

“This therefore justifies the award of not only higher damages but also aggravated damages,” Goh added.