SUPPRESS THE PRESS – LEE HSIEN LOONG SUES THE ONLINE CITIZEN

Written by Joseph Ong

How It Started 

The Oxley Road saga continues. PM Lee is suing the editor of The Online Citizen (TOC) for not complying with his demands to remove an article and Facebook post repeating “false allegations” against him. The article was titled “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members,” referencing Ho Ching’s Facebook post where she shared an article justifying distancing oneself from toxic family members.

The TOC article found this “ironic”, considering Ho Ching’s well known “sour relationship” with her brother-in-law Lee Hsien Yang and sister-in-law Dr Lee Wei Ling over the Oxley Road feud. It went on to repeat Dr Lee Wei Ling’s claims that “her late father was misled by PM Lee” in the management of the 38 Oxley Road property. PM Lee’s press secretary stated that these allegations were “completely without foundation” and threatened TOC with legal action if they did not take down the article and make a full apology.

 

TOC’s Response 

In his response to the Prime Minister, TOC Chief Editor Terry Xu apologised for any possible misinterpretations over parts of the article and the Facebook post. However, he was “of the opinion that the contents of the article are not defamatory” as he was “merely republishing the words uttered by your siblings” (Oof). He refused to comply with the request to remove the article or the Facebook post. Despite concerns of hefty legal fees, Mr Xu asserted that it “is a price I am willing to pay to not only uphold my principles, but also to uphold my obligations to Singapore and my fellow Singaporeans”.

 

The Rest of the World Watches

International publications have caught on to the issue and raised concerns over Singapore’s low press freedom rankings. Time Magazine and Agence France-Presse have commented on how Singapore leaders are criticised for curbing civil rights and using libel suits to silence critics. This issue could cast a shadow over the upcoming general election.

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