Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Singapore Court rules FEER defamed PM and MM...oh, wow, really huh

Read my earlier blogposts here and here for more about this case. A word to the IBA as well about this latest "surprise" judgment.
Sep 23, 2008

FEER defamed PM, MM

It will have to pay damages, which will be assessed later.

By Zakir Hussain

THE High Court has ruled that the publisher and editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review (Feer) defamed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a July 2006 article in the magazine.

The Lees were awarded damages, which will be assessed at a later date.

Review Publishing and Mr Hugo Restall are also restrained from publishing, selling or disseminating the libellous allegations in Singapore.

The judgment, released on Tuesday by Justice Woo Bih Li, comes four months after he heard an application by the Lees' lawyers for a summary judgment.

This is an application made for a court ruling without the need for the case to go to trial because the applicants are of the view that the defence arguments are baseless.

The lawyers for the Lees said, among other things, that the article was calculated to disparage both leaders. They argued that it suggested that they were corrupt and unfit for office, and would sue and suppress those who question them as the questions would expose their corruption.

In its defence, the Hong Kong-based magazine argued that the article - titled 'Singapore's 'Martyr', Chee Soon Juan' - was based on facts and fair comment, concerned matters of public interest and was a neutral report.

But Justice Woo said Feer's defences failed or did not apply in Singapore.

In a 234-paragraph written judgment, he said there was no doubt that the defamatory words in the article referred to both the Lees.

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