Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan initiates defamation suit against Lee Hsien Yang

Vivian Balakrishnan, Lee Hsien Yang and K Shanmugam.

SINGAPORE: Mr Shanmugam, the Law and Home Affairs Minister, and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, have formally filed a defamation suit in the Singapore High Court against Lee Hsien Yang, the son of Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

The case is scheduled for an in-chamber hearing on the coming Tuesday (5 Sept) at 9 am morning.

According to notices on the Singapore court website, the two ministers are represented by three lawyers from Davinder Singh Chambers, including the prominent senior lawyer Davinder Singh, who previously represented Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in previous high-profile defamation cases.

With the two ministers officially filing the lawsuit, the next step, following the court procedure, would be to serve the summons on Lee Hsien Yang, who is also the younger brother of PM Lee.

If Lee Hsien Yang’s address is unknown, the plaintiffs can apply to the court to serve the summons through methods such as email, social media, newspaper advertisements, and more.

Subsequently, if Lee Hsien Yang fails to submit a defence within the stipulated timeframe, the plaintiffs can apply for a default judgment, securing a victory in the case and seeking compensation from Lee Hsien Yang.

Typically, the claim amount in High Court civil litigation starts at S$ 250,000.

On 27 July, Ministers Shanmugam and Balakrishnan announced plans to sue LHY over defamation allegations, unless an apology is issued and the statements are retracted.

LHY is accused of suggesting that the ministers acted corruptly, receiving preferential treatment by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) through unauthorized tree felling and state-funded renovations of 26 and 31 Ridout Road. Both ministers have categorically refuted these allegations.

In a Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam outlined their demands: Mr Lee is to retract his accusations, issue an apology, and pay damages, which would subsequently be donated to charity. Non-compliance would trigger a lawsuit.

Later, Lee Hsien Yang took to Facebook on 31 July, alleging that the two PAP ministers were pressuring him to issue a public apology that he perceived to be falsified.

he claimed the ministers demanded he make a specific statement: “I recognise that the Post meant and was understood to mean that Mr K Shamugam/Dr Vivian Balakrishnan acted corruptly and for personal gain by having the Singapore Land Authority give him preferential treatment by felling trees without approval and illegally and having it pay for renovations to 31 Ridout Road.”

However, LHY staunchly defends his initial words: “Two ministers have leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls, felling trees and getting state-sponsored renovations.”

He believes his original statement does not equate to an allegation of corruption or personal gain, and criticizes the ministers for insisting on a “false apology” for words he claims he did not utter.

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