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Former Singapore PM's brother fined $296,000 for libel

By AFP

May 24, 2024 03:04 PM


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A Singapore court ordered former prime minister Lee Hsien Loong's brother on Friday to pay $296,000 in damages to two top ministers after his libellous accusations caused a scandal in the city-state.

Lee Hsien Yang's defamatory Facebook post related to a controversy over the rental of sprawling colonial bungalows by the foreign affairs and law ministers, who have both been cleared of any wrongdoing following two investigations.

Lee, 66, is living overseas after fleeing Singapore two years ago, claiming political persecution by the government of then-prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, his older brother.

The allegations he made about the prime properties located in leafy suburbs sparked an outcry in the city-state, where most of the population live in government-built high-rise apartments.

"I find that the defendant knew that the offending words were false, that he published them recklessly, and/or without considering or caring whether they are true or not," High Court Judge Goh Yihan said Friday in announcing the amount of damages.

Goh ordered Lee to pay Sg$200,000 ($148,000) in damages to each of the two politicians -- Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

The ministers sued him separately for defamation and a court notice about the lawsuits was served through Facebook Messenger because Lee was not in Singapore.

The judge ordered Lee in November to pay the ministers damages but did not immediately specify the amount.

Lee has joined an opposition party but it remains unclear whether he wants to run for parliament.

The Lee siblings have been at odds following the death in 2015 of their father, modern Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, over what to do with a historic family house after his passing.

Lee Hsien Loong, 72, handed power to his deputy Lawrence Wong on May 15 after 20 years in office.


AFP


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