Report : PM Lee seeks aggravated damages for defamation from Malaysian TOC writer

SINGAPORE : Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is seeking aggravated damages and costs for defamation from a Malaysian contributor to sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC), The Straits Times reported today (May 31).

The news report said Rubaashini Shunmuganathan, the TOC writer whose article alleged that Lee had misled his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, did not make an appearance during the High Court hearing today to assess the damages and costs.

The quantum of damages sought by Lee was not specified, said the online report.

According to the report, the hearing was held virtually on videoconferencing platform Zoom.

The report said Rubaashini had repeatedly been served court papers since December 2019, through her personal e-mail address, her TOC e-mail address and in person.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)

Lee’s lawyers at Davinder Singh Chambers first attempted to contact her on Oct 21, 2019, by sending her a letter asking her to remove the article, apologise and compensate the Prime Minister, it said.

Citing Lee’s affidavit, the report said Rubaashini did not comply with the demands in his letter to her, nor did she deny or dispute any of his claims.

As she failed to enter an appearance in the suit, Lee obtained a judgment in default of appearance against her on Dec 31, 2019, it said.

The report said Lee is suing Rubaashini over an article she wrote for TOC in 2019 titled “PM Lee’s wife Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members”.

He had also sued TOC editor Terry Xu over the same article in a separate case that is pending judgment, it said.

During the hearing today, it was reported that Lee’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, asked for three weeks to make submissions on the defence Rubaashini might have mounted if she had made an appearance, and what his arguments against them would have been.

Justice Audrey Lim adjourned the case and will decide on the amount of damages and costs at a later date, said the report.


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