Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has demanded an apology from a local blogger for a posting seen as accusing him of corruption.
Lee’s lawyer Davinder Singh has written to Roy Ngerng Yi Ling asking him to take down the original article as well as the links posted on his Facebook pages and to post an apology by tomorrow
Singh said the allegations by Ngerng in his May 15 blog post were “false and baseless”.
“The article means and is understood to mean that Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and the chairman of GIC, is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the CPF (Central Provident Fund),” Singh wrote in the letter.
GIC is a sovereign wealth fund that manages more than US$100 billion of the city-state’s foreign reserves. CPF is the state pension fund.
Singh said the post constituted a serious libel against Lee, “disparages him, and impugns his character, credit and integrity”.
Health care worker Ngerng, 33, regularly posts commentaries critical of the long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) in his blog The Heart Truths.
Recent posts have called for greater transparency on how CPF funds are invested by the government through GIC and state investment firm Temasek Holdings.
“My articles have been calling for greater accountability and transparency, and instead of acknowledging these issues, the prime minister has decided to sue me,” Ngerng said.
“I am quite disappointed and at this point I am still in discussion with my lawyer on my next course of action.”
Singapore has ranked top in surveys as one of the world’s least corrupt countries.
But international human rights groups have regularly accused its leaders, including Lee’s father and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, of using financially ruinous libel actions to silence critics and political opponents.
Singapore leaders have countered that the lawsuits are necessary to protect their reputations.
With the mainstream media perceived as pro-government, blogs have risen in prominence as avenues for citizens to vent their anger.