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Blogger's moves could amount to 'very grave aggravation': PM's lawyers

Lawyers for Mr Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (May 27) sent Mr Roy Ngerng a legal letter in which his legal team claimed the blogger had not removed a video on YouTube, and also sent out two emails in which the video as well as contentious blogposts were republished.

SINGAPORE: Lawyers for Mr Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (May 27) sent Mr Roy Ngerng a legal letter in which the Prime Minister’s legal team claimed that the “Heart Truths” blogger had not removed a video on YouTube, and also sent out two emails in which the video as well as contentious blogposts were republished.

"The fact that your client misled everyone about his promise to remove the YouTube video amounts to very grave aggravation. If the two emails were sent by your client, then that would be further aggravation," Senior Counsel Davinder Singh wrote.

In the letter, the Drew & Napier lawyer gave Mr Ngerng's lawyer M Ravi a May 27, 5pm deadline to answer the following questions:

  1. Did you know that your client did not intend to remove and/or did not remove the YouTube video?

  2. Did your client send either or both of the emails referred to above?

  3. If so, whom did he send the email(s) to?

  4. If he did send them, did you know that he intended to send and/or had sent them or either of them?

In response, Mr Ngerng posted his lawyer's letter on his blog at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday. It said: "In proposing an offer, our client states that his video and other posts were not intended to imply that there is any truth in the criminal misappropriation allegation. He does not resile from his apology in that regard and he apologises again if there is any basis for suggesting otherwise."

Mr Ravi also wrote that Mr Ngerng's "long history of involvement with the CPF issue" has become a matter of intense concern and he "deeply regrets that he allowed his concern to cause and form his own conclusions".

"He now realises that in his efforts to bring out for public discussion what he saw as matters of legitimate enquiry he has allowed his judgment to be clouded," the lawyer wrote.

Mr Ravi said Mr Ngerng is proposing to offer S$5,000 as damages to PM Lee, with each party to bear their own costs.

Mr Ngerng was first issued a legal request on May 19 to remove an article referencing Mr Lee that the Prime Minister's lawyers said had been "published maliciously". The blogger removed the post that night, and on Friday submitted his apology via a legal letter as well as a post published on his "Heart Truths" website.

On May 26, Mr Lee's lawyers sent another legal letter asking for a further four blogposts as well as a related YouTube video be removed, saying the published apology "was not and never meant to be genuine". Later the same day, Mr Ngerng replied that he would do so, but requested for and was granted an extension of the deadline to make an offer of damages to Mr Lee.

However, according to Mr Singh's letter, Mr Ngerng "once again misled our client and the public" by not removing the YouTube video, but instead setting it to private. "In other words, your client continues to make it available to a select group of people."

Added Mr Singh: "After we informed you that our client agreed to your client's request for an extension of time (to make an offer of damages), we learnt of two emails which appear to have been sent by your client, one to many people, including members of the local and international media, and the other to a blind list.

"These emails republish the YouTube video and the offending posts, but this time to a far wider audience. They also notified the addressees of where they could continue to read some of the offending posts after 5pm (on May 26).

"Those emails also assert that your client's allegation against our client is 'the truth' and that our client has complained about the offending posts 'to eliminate the evidence of corruption' from (Mr Ngerng's blog)."

The two emails, including the list of recipients, were reproduced in the legal letter.

Mr Lee reserves the right to recover aggravated damages for the matters covered in the May 26 and May 27 letters, Mr Singh added.

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