The first Singaporean to lose in court to the prime minister over an online article is trying his luck again with raising funds to pay off the remaining sum he owes, six years later.
Activist Roy Ngerng, 39, revived his donor appeal yesterday to pay off S$144,000 (US$107,000) of the S$150,000 he was ordered by the high court to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Ngerng, who was sued for alleging Lee had misappropriated Singaporeans’ retirement savings, said that he had been paying S$100 monthly installments for the past few years.
That amount goes up to S$1,000 starting this month, he added, as per the terms of the court.
Ngerng told Coconuts after this story first published that he had so far raised over S$12,000 as of noon today, saying he was “grateful” for the response.
“I had initially thought to move on from the suit, but several people including friends and supporters suggested I revive the crowdfunding campaign,” he said. “It seemed that the defamation is used as a tool to persecute people who speak up and people who represent the voices of people, and crowdfunding is seen as a tool to push back against such aggression and oppression.”
His campaign began a week after another government critic, Leong Sze Hian, said he’d successfully crowdfunded the S$133,000 he was ordered to pay for defaming the prime minister. Lee sued Leong, who now lives in Taiwan, for sharing an article to Facebook that alleged Lee conspired with former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to loot his nation’s state investment funds as part of the massive 1MDB scandal.
“For the past 5 years, I’ve been paying the Singapore PM S$100 a month. However, starting this month, I am supposed to start paying S$1,000 (US$746) a month, or nearly half my current salary. I still [owe] him S$144,000 (US$107,500), which would take until 2033 to pay at this rate,” he said on Twitter.
Ngerng, who in 2014 raised about S$80,000 to help pay legal fees, said he decided to ask for help online again following the “encouragement of friends and supporters.”
He also described Leong’s case as “more ridiculous” than his.
Ngerng is now based in Taiwan, where he works for a nonprofit organization. He has no plans to return to Singapore as he claims that he would not be able to find a job.
On the encouragement of friends and supporters, I have revived my fundraising campaign for the defamation suit I faced from Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee sued me over an article I wrote and he won, and I was ordered to pay him S$150,000 (US$112,000) in damages. pic.twitter.com/sTI9HpB7s7
— Roy Ngerng 鄞義林 (@royngerng) April 7, 2021
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the amount raised and comments from Ngerng.