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Suing blogger Roy Ngerng is ‘a PR disaster of their own making’ for Singapore government

Roy Ngerng's fund-raising platform

Legal action taken against Singapore blogger Roy Ngerng by the country’s Prime Minister is a PR disaster of the government’s own making, a prominent former ad man has said.

Calvin Soh, the former vice chairman of Publicis Asia Pacific, wrote on his Facebook blog Future Singapore that “Whoever is advising the PAP [Singapore’s ruling political party] needs to get their heads out of their own crevice.”

The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is suing Roy Ngerng, the author of blog The Heart Truths, for defamation over comments he made about the Central Provident Fund, a compulsory savings plan for working Singaporeans. 

In response to legal proceedings from the PM, Ngerng has apologised, deleted a number of the articles he has written about the issue, as well as a video.

But the Prime Minister, via his lawyer, called an offer from the blogger of S$5,000 (US$4,000) to settle the matter “derisory”.

He claimed that Ngerng has used the legal action to raise his profile, repeat the libel by republishing the offending posts and go back on his apology.

Ngerng is trying to raise funds to cover the legal fees through a crowd-funding initiative on his blog. He expects legal costs to amount to S$70,000 (US$56,000).

He has posted a video on YouTube to galvanise support.

Calvin Soh commented: “Whoever is advising the pap needs to get their heads out of their own crevice. It is a PR disaster of their own making. What if Roy raises $500,000? It’s not just the sum; crowdfunding shows you market size. What if people don’t support Roy, but want this to go to court so the issue of CPF will be brought up?”

“What if you [Singapore’s government] have turned Roy into a symbol of the ordinary guy being bullied because you’ve pushed too hard?,” Soh said.

“The Queen doesn’t sue her subjects. One can’t be a benevolent leader if you sue your own people. Really, the old methods don’t work in this new era. This is shooting yourself in the foot and stuffing it in your mouth.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak is suing independent news website Malaysiakini for defamation.

In an interview with Australian TV network ABC, the website’s editor Steven Gan said that the Malaysian government was “taking a leaf out of Singapore’s book” by using strong arm legal tactics to silence critical voices.

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