When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong initiated legal action against Roy Ngerng over remarks the blogger posted alleging that CPF monies held in member accounts had been criminally misappropriated, it seems like another classic case of the Singapore government using the courts to silence their critics.
However, to everyone’s surprise, the PM's defamation suit has quickly become a PR disaster for the Singapore government!
Faced with a lawsuit in the High Court, where the typical minimum value of claims for damages is $250,000, Ngerng decided to raise money through crowd-funding in order to fight the case. In this “David and Goliath” matchup, Singaporeans has responded to his plea to the tune of $72,000.
Just to prove this was no joke; Ngerng published the transaction history of his bank account on his crowd-funding platform and it showed that thus far, 1,104 people had contributed more than $72,000 to Ngerng. This has exceeded his target of $70,000, but the thing that caught everyone’s attention is the fact that Ngerng has managed to get the sum in just 4 days!
Ouch! That sum has lay to rest any idea the Singapore government has of the lawsuit shutting Ngerng up. In fact, the show of support from Singaporeans has given the issue new life; something the lawsuit was designed to avoid in the first place. In short, the defamation suit has boomerang on the government and the longer the suit is there, the more publicity Ngerng’s stance on the CPF will get.
So I think PM Lee needs to quickly decide if the lawsuit is worth the trouble. I don’t think it is and if the PM agrees with me on that, it would be better if he just cancel the lawsuit. Let’s be serious; Roy Ngerng is just a no-name blogger. There’s no need to make a hero out of him.