Lim Tean: Political activist Leong Sze Hian is Singapore’s Rosa Parks in defamation suit against Singapore PM

Lim Tean speaking at the Abuse of Process rally at Speaker’s Corner (Photo: Video screengrab from Lim Tean / Facebook)
Lim Tean speaking at the Abuse of Process rally at Speaker’s Corner (Photo: Video screengrab from Lim Tean / Facebook)

Lawyer and politician Lim Tean on Saturday compared the current suit by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against blogger Leong Sze Hian to a suit by long ago by a famed US civil rights legend, saying that Sze Hian is Singapore’s Rosa Parks, in a speech he made at the Speaker’s Corner.

The speech was part of an Abuse of Process rally conducted by Lim, where he accused the prime minister of allegedly abusing processes against ordinary Singaporeans.

In attendance were folks like professor Paul Tambyah, activist Jolovan Wham and former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, among hundreds of others.

In his speech, Lim Tean equated Leong’s fight against PM Lee with the case of Rosa Parks who was arrested for failing to give up her seat to a white person, and who was arrested and charged in court before the United States Supreme Court ruled segregated buses unconstitutional.

“What (Leong) is doing today in Singapore is what no one has ever done before, and it is to stand up to a powerful figure and tell that person enough is enough,” Lim said. “I’m not going to be railroaded, I am going to stand my ground, I am going to defend myself.”

Among the accusations made at the rally, Lim said that PM Lee had allegedly abused the process of the court in filing a suit against Leong for sharing a post on Facebook written by Malaysian publication The Coverage that was allegedly defamatory.

In the article, it was insinuated that Lee made “secret deals” with his disgraced former Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak to help launder money looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

However, the information was refuted by the original source, news site Sarawak Report, which said that the report was erroneous and “unclear in its direction and meaning.”

The report from The Coverage picked up allegedly problematic material from news site States Times Review, which has been blocked in Singapore.

Lim questioned why PM Lee did not sue the writer of The Coverage, who was behind the post that Leong shared.

“Lee Hsien Loong may fire volley after volley against (Leong) Sze Hian, but I can assure (PM Lee) he will be receiving two volleys for every volley he fires until the fateful day when all of us will meet in court and the truth will emerge,” he said, to thunderous applause from the crowd.

Lim said the courage Leong had to fight for freedom of expression would make the case between Leong and Lee “one of the seminal cases in our nation’s history.”

Last December, Leong was served papers by the law firm Drew and Napier on behalf of PM Lee, which alleged that the article Leong shared “disparage and impugn (PM Lee’s) character, credit and integrity.”

Leong then filed a counterclaim alleging that the suit was “an abuse of the process of the court,” according to Mothership.

Both PM Lee and Leong’s lawyers have filed subsequent counterclaims to strike out each other’s cases.

PM Lee’s office said the prime minister will continue to take legal advice on developments, according to a report by the Hong Kong Free Press.

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