Two Indian-origin Singapore Ministers to Serve Court Papers to PM Lee's Brother in Defamation Case Through Facebook Messenger

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
(Reuters File Photo)

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
(Reuters File Photo)

Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan are seeking damages and an injunction to restrain Lee Hsien Yang from publishing or disseminating the allegations, which they assert are false and defamatory

Two senior Indian-origin ministers in Singapore have applied to serve court papers to Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, through Facebook Messenger for making defamatory allegations relating to their rental of two colonial-era bungalows in the city-state.

K. Shanmugam, the Law and Home Affairs Minister, and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Foreign Minister, filed separate defamation suits in the High Court against Lee Hsien Yang on August 2 this year.

The legal action arose over a public post on Lee Hsien Yang’s Facebook page made on July 23, which stated, among other things, that “two ministers have leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls, felling trees and getting state-sponsored renovations”.

The two ministers sent lawyers’ letters to Lee Hsien Yang in July, saying they would sue unless he apologised, withdrew his allegations and paid damages relating to the colonial-era bungalows on Ridout Road.

On August 28, the ministers’ lawyers applied for substituted service by Facebook Messenger, according to a report by The Straits Times newspaper.

The ministers are seeking a court order that the papers are deemed to have been served by sending the documents in portable document format, or PDF, by Facebook Messenger to Lee Hsien Yang’s profile page on the social networking platform.

Lawyers acting for the two ministers made the application on the grounds that it was impractical to serve the court papers on Lee Hsien Yang personally in Britain, the report said. Lee Hsien Yang and his wife left the country after declining to attend a police interview in July 2022 relating to lying in judicial proceedings about the will of his late father and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The lawyers also stated that “substituted service by Facebook Messenger will probably be effective in bringing the court papers to the notice of the defendant”.

Substituted service refers to methods of serving court papers when attempts to serve them in person have been unsuccessful.

In 2016, the High Court ruled that court papers can be served through Facebook, Skype or Internet message boards on defendants who cannot be reached in person.

Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan are seeking damages and an injunction to restrain Lee Hsien Yang from publishing or disseminating the allegations, which they assert are false and defamatory.

They contend that the offending words – which meant they had been given preferential treatment – are “false and baseless” and “were calculated to disparage and impugn” them.

According to the court documents, their lawyers had sent a letter to Lee Hsien Yang on July 27, demanding that he remove the post and all related comments. It also demanded Lee Hsien Yang post a public apology on his Facebook page for four weeks.

In the letter, each minister also sought SGD 25,000, which they said they would donate to charity. It also stated that the sum was a fraction of the substantial damages each minister was entitled in law to recover if they were to start legal proceedings.

Following this, Lee Hsien Yang said on Facebook that he was simply stating the facts and added that the two ministers should sue him in a court in the UK, where he asserted he was at the time.

The statement of claim filed by each minister did not specify the quantum of damages sought. Generally, civil cases are filed in the High Court when the claims’ value exceeds SGD 250,000.

On August 14, the ministers’ lawyers applied to the court for permission to serve the papers to Lee Hsien Yang “wherever he may be found in the United Kingdom”.

Days after that the two ministers were granted permission to serve the papers out of jurisdiction on Lee Hsien Yang. The court order stated that within 21 days after the papers were served on him, Lee Hsien Yang was to file a document to indicate whether he intended to contest the claim.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

Source link

By explore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.