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Why was LHY sued for defamation despite compliance with POFMA correction direction?

Veteran journalist Bertha Henson questions the need for defamation suits against Mr Lee Hsien Yang when POFMA corrections were made and were complied. She cites parallels with cases such as WakeupSg’s, where, despite POFMA compliance, defamation charges ensued for those involved.



Bertha Henson, former Associate Editor of the Straits Times (ST), commenting on the defamation lawsuit against Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY), questioned the necessity of such suits when the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) corrections have been issued.

The veteran journalist asked whether compliance with POFMA should eliminate the necessity to remove ‘offending words’. POFMA’s intention, she suggests, is to allow individuals to assess both versions of the information.

Last Friday, the Singapore High Court ruled in favour of Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, awarding them a total of S$400,000 in the defamation lawsuit against LHY,  the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and son of the late Lee Kuan Yew, over allegations made regarding Ridout estate rentals.

The hearing for damages on 2 May earlier was quickly resolved in just 15 minutes due to LHY’s absence and lack of representation.

The two ministers alleged that LHY had, in his Facebook post in July last year, accused them of receiving preferential treatment from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), implicating them in corrupt activities.

Justice Goh Yihan, in his written judgement dated 24 May, described the allegations as “of the gravest kind,” targeting the personal integrity and professional reputation of Mr Shanmugam, who serves as Law and Home Affairs Minister, and Dr Balakrishnan, the Foreign Minister.

Justice said LHY was found to have acted with malice, and despite opportunities to retract the post and apologize, he did not take corrective action.

In the July 2023 Facebook post, which Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan have sued LHY for, LHY wrote that “two ministers have leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls” and mentioned having felled trees and “getting state-sponsored renovations.”

At the time of publication of the post, there was widespread public discussion and media coverage regarding the leases of 26 and 31 Ridout Road by the ministers. The judgment notes that investigations, including those by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or preferential treatment in relation to these leases.

On 25 July 2023, a Correction Direction under the POFMA was issued to LHY regarding the post, in which LHY also complied and edited his post to include the POFMA correction notice.

However, the judgement noted that the defendant did not remove the Offending Words on 25 July 2023. They remained visible on the Post until 10 November 2023.

The ministers alleged that LHY’s post implied corrupt behaviour and personal gain on their part through preferential treatment from SLA and state-funded renovations to certain properties. This claim contradicts statements by the CPIB and ministerial statements asserting their innocence.

Despite demands for an apology, withdrawal of allegations, and payment of damages, LHY refused, arguing that his statements did not imply corruption or personal gain.

He criticized the demand for what he termed a “false apology” for accusations he claims he never made.

Legal proceedings ensued, with the ministers’ legal team initially seeking permission to serve papers on LHY in the United Kingdom, where he resides. However, the court permitted the papers to be served outside its jurisdiction via Facebook Messenger.

LHY did not enter an appearance in the lawsuit, maintaining a preference for the UK as the venue for litigation.

Nonetheless, Justice Goh Yihan ruled in favour of the ministers in November 2023, ordering LHY to pay the costs and granting injunctions against him to restrain further defamatory allegations.

Bertha Henson: “Someone needs to clarify about POFMA”

On Sunday (26 May), in a Facebook post Ms Henson penned her skepticism over the necessity of the defamation lawsuit against Mr LHY. She suggesting the apparent redundancy and potential overreach in cases where individuals comply with POFMA yet still face defamation lawsuits.

“If someone complied with POFMA, then there’s no need to remove ‘offending words’ is there? Cos the whole idea is to let everyone assess both versions.”

Henson draws parallels with other cases, such as the Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) case, where despite compliance with POFMA, defamation suits were pursued, sometimes even resulting in criminal defamation charges.

“So one tap and then a big sledgehammer? If it’s defamatory, then sue. Why POFMA?”

Last month,  Ariffin Sha, the administrator of WUSG was charged in court for allegedly publishing a misleading article online that claimed a woman suffered a miscarriage due to mishandling at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).

A POFMA correction direction was also issued against the posts made by WUSG on 27 March 2022. WUSG apologised after the woman featured in the article admitted to fabricating her story. WUSG also complied with the POFMA order right away.

LHY questioning the Ministers’ refusal of international litigation options

On a separate note, last Friday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang commented on the High Court’s judgment regarding the lawsuit filed against him by the two ministers, despite his absence during the proceedings.

Mr Lee had again raised questions about the ministers’ desire to clear their names, pointing out their refusal of offers to litigate the matter in a London court or an independent international tribunal.

Furthermore, Mr Lee broke down the substantial legal costs incurred in the case. The ministers are now liable for damages totalling s$400,000 ($200,000 each) and nearly S$220,000 in additional costs, resulting in a staggering total of approximately $620,000.

This sum equates to about 13.6 months’ rental for the two Ridout houses at the centre of the dispute, Mr Lee added.

Breaking down the costs further, Mr Lee noted that each minister incurred S$51,000 in fees, totalling S$102,000, despite having essentially identical cases.

” In addition, they have also been given other costs amounting to over $117,000, including for a mountain of almost 43,000 pages of paper by the ministers. Printing and paper costs alone amounted to more than $22,000.”

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just hope for miracles from old man to happen. LOL

Ah Yang should pass part of this bill to fat fuck Kenneth.
Afterall, fat fuck was the one who started it and ah Yang just itchy mouth went on the shit ride!
So was ah Yang kenna saboed by fat fuck Kenneth?
Or was Ah Yang having itchy backside all the time and just chose to fuck anyone at the establishment just to cause trouble when he can?
Never knew brother /brother war can be so serious until anyone ,anywhere can also tio sai!
Oxley is serious business!😆😆😆😆

Having this guy around will only further split and divide the already fragmented opposition. The for and anti lee. Stop supporting and let him make use of. He will naturally faded away. Can’t you see whatever he does is for himself? His actions do not foretell he loves the country and the people. So stop dream that he can be your savoir. Don’t make it that anyone who against the establishment is good. Be smart.

Empowered by Majority

perhaps they needed this money to compensate the sq flight passengers last week if it is ruled that they need to.

Does an authoritarian regime need an excuse to persecute political dissidents? The answer is No. But why force Lee Hsien Yang to flee from Singapore? We got the answer on the 15th of May. Lee Hsien Loong stepped down as Prime Minister. Why is this important? Suppose, LHY was not forced out of the country. He’s still part of the PSP and decides to run as a candidate in the next GE. LHL still decides to step down. We will get a rare election where a non-Lee lead ruling government is pitted against an opposition with a “Lee”. LHL spent… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Blankslate

So this fucked up former Associate Editor of the Straits Times think STIR SHIT ALREADY REMOVE SHIT CAN AVOID GETTING SUED? WHO TEACH HER ONE? Her years at Shit Times she did not learn anything? Obviously this bitxh got a axe to grind with the establishment. Fell out of favor years ago and now also out to stir shit. She might as well join some oppo party! Once Yang put the article out for public viewing means can be sued. The other party still reserved the right to sued Yang for it even if he withdraw by POFMA! Song bo,Yang?… Read more »

We should be celebrating Mogrels win!!!
No Pun Intended!!!

The whole squad of those goons are malicious AF. They’ll go out of their way to cover themselves or get the state owned courts or nazi runned parliament to exonerate their wrongdoings.
The perks of being a MIW.

The 2 ah nehs who like to hole in snake pits in thick wooded surroundings.

Ironically they have no qualms with killing lots of trees by printing thousands of page for their arrogance and pride.

The judge has no clue that these two don’t have a reputation to maintain as One is known to lie repeatedly, trace together comes to mind and the other is known to be “looking at other men’s wives.” So what reputation is there that allows the court to allow $400,000/- as damages. They rent their own homes out. Rent State properties under their wives’ name and a Court in Singapore still rules that their reputation is damaged. They did it to themselves. The choices we make, shows our character and integrity. Why should LHY or anybody else have to pay… Read more »

LW & President T are both as ineffective as paper hammers…

More PERTINENT question is: Does POFMA or defamation suits ACTUALLY CHANGE public opinion on the matter? Or more self defeatingly, cause public opinion to shift even MORE in favour of the supposedly offending words.

Shouldnt this be a question in parleement since its been brought up?
Would any MP like to do so?
Or wouldnt it be allowed?

Shanmugam grilled so many people before POFMA was implemented.
Why didn’t any LawSoc agents go & tell him this.
Now, it seems like a good way to Profit from people who have the money.

Slinkies—-. I have a strange feeling that some people are doing back door dealings in the courtroom for clients. Hmmm just another strange thought!!!!!

In layman;

POFMA is to stop and deter fake news.

Defamation is a civil suit when one sue with personal capacity when one feels he has been defamed

Criminal Defamation is a criminal case under penal code when state feels there is criminal intent

These 3 are not mutually exclusive and could run concurrently.

What’s up in the minds of the 2 Monsters when challenged by Yang to have their names to be cleared in London Courts. Why they did not explain clearly, and owe many readers too, their reasons not to

It comes to mind then going back, why Keppel Corpn DID NOT SUE the 🇺🇸 DoJ to clear their names after indicted for CORRUPTION by giving bribes to Brazil Petrobas?

Then to extrapolate, 🇺🇸 DoJ judiciary more fair? Or bias in London courts system?

How about SG’s then?

The dead one would break, bankrupt and silence all those who’d dare go against him, … in the Courts. Before that, … he’d imprison them under the ISA or whatever works !!! He never lost a case or not imprisoned anyone he targeted !!! Fast forward to this regime, … who thought they could and should do better, in the public eye, at the very least, … and still arrive with the same end result. Alas, POFMA was unveiled, … but this regime’s malicious and morally void intent with their manipulated and manufactured results remained, … as before !!! SillyPore,… Read more »

What’s the Singapore Constitution for?

Why is the SG Constitution seems only aims to protect the PAP Administration in anything, everything they do, whatever they do, anytime all the time?

Where are the fair rights, real rights of ordinary Singaporeans?

Are SGpns are living in subjection to the draconian laws the Administration operate to instill fear in SGpns?

When people still continue to VOTE – THINK of yourself as A LIVING DEAD, nothing more than an ant. Do u think so?

Be real, there’s NOTHING in it to tell oneself I m proud Singaporean.

It was a misstep😂🤣😅

1 thousand and WHY

Seems quite strange to me as layman – how is it an implication can be determined as real, as fact, as affirmative act carried out? How does one decide ‘what is implication’, and what is implication or what it means when I say F you? How is it then to interpret a F you implication of penetration?

I m loss.

Bertha Henson – once pledge huge loyalty to blast on behalf of the PAP Administration when under the employment of SPH Holdings.

Would it be different after she left.