Ridout Road rental defamation case: Lee Hsien Yang ordered to pay $200,000 each to Shanmugam and Vivian

SINGAPORE – The High Court has ordered Mr Lee Hsien Yang to pay $200,000 each to Cabinet ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan for defaming them in a public post on his Facebook page about renting state bungalows on Ridout Road.

Law and Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam and External Affairs Minister Balakrishnan had filed separate defamation suits in the High Court against Lee in August 2023.

Lee is the youngest son of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and brother of Chief Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The legal action arose from a post on Lee’s Facebook page on July 23 alleging that ministers had acted corruptly by getting the Singapore Land Authority to give them preferential treatment.

In a written ruling on May 24, Judge Goh Yihan found that Mr Lee’s defamatory allegations against the two ministers were “of the most serious kind” as they concerned his personal integrity, professional reputation, honor and fundamental attributes. of their personalities.

The judge said Shanmugam and Balakrishnan are public leaders and people of the highest integrity and prestige, while Lee is well known in Singapore.

Justice Goh added that there has been and continues to be substantial publication and republication of the defamatory allegations in Singapore.

The judge added that Lee did not apologize or remove the post despite the plaintiffs giving him the opportunity to do so.

Judge Goh also found that Lee had acted with malice because he “knew that the offending words were false, that he published them recklessly and/or without considering or caring whether they were true or not.”

The judge said malice in defamation means any ill will, grudge or some wrong or inappropriate motive, and justifies the award of not only greater damages but also aggravated damages.

In assessing the amount, Judge Goh considered two separate defamation suits filed by former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Judge Goh awarded $150,000 in general damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages each to Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan.

This is a developing story.

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