Hearing ends in Lee Hsien Loong’s suit over 1MDB article

(FMT) – Hearing has ended in a libel trial involving Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and blogger Leong Sze Hian, with a written judgment expected early next year.

“Generally, it will take two to three months. You won’t have it before January,” said defence counsel Lim Tean.

Lee, 68, had sued as a private citizen over a post shared on Leong’s Facebook page in November 2018, which contained a link to an article by Malaysian news site, The Coverage.

Although the post had already been removed, Lee chose to go ahead with the suit on the basis that “removal does not expunge the defamation”.

The plaintiff said the online article contained “false and clearly libellous” allegations linking him to the 1MDB money-laundering scandal. The content of the article was taken from the States Times Review page.

Hearing of the suit began in early October this year. Final oral arguments were made today after two rounds of written submissions. At the end of today’s proceedings, Justice Aedit Abdullah said he would try to make his written judgment “as expeditiously as possible”.

Earlier today, a hearing was held on another libel suit brought by Lee. This case was against Terry Xu, editor of The Online Citizen website.

The case is over claims made in an article with the title “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”, published on Aug 15, 2019.

One of the allegations was that Lee misled his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, into thinking that the Singapore government had gazetted Lee’s property as 38, Oxley Road, and that it was futile to keep Kuan Yew’s directive to demolish it.