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High Court orders Terry Xu to pay PM Lee $88K in legal costs for defamation suit

The Independent logo The Independent 3 days ago Anna Maria Romero
a man wearing a suit and tie © The Independent Singapore

Singapore — Mr Terry Xu, editor-in-chief of The Online Citizen (TOC), has been ordered by the High Court to pay $87,832.93 for legal fees incurred by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in connection to the defamation suit he won against Mr Xu.

The TOC editor took to Facebook on Wednesday (Oct 13) to appeal to supporters to donate toward his crowdfunding efforts.

In September, Mr Xu was able to raise $210,000 for the amount the High Court ordered to be paid in total damages in relation to the case.

And on Wednesday afternoon, he wrote, “I would greatly appreciate if you can contribute to the sum stipulated. 

Not as a sign of pity towards me but taking a stand to let the political leaders know that they should not resort to defamation suits to achieve whatever goals that they desire.”

The suit against Mr Xu was filed by the Prime Minister two years ago after an article with the headline “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members” was published on the TOC website and Facebook page on Aug 15, 2019. 

The article mentioned the rift between PM Lee and his siblings, the will of their father – the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and the family property at 38 Oxley Road.

On Sept 1, Justice Audrey Lim handed down her decision in the lawsuit – awarding PM Lee damages worth $210,000 ($160,000 in damages and $50,000 in aggravated damages) against Mr Xu and the writer of the article, Ms Rubaashini Shunmuganathan.

Mr Xu’s lawyer, Mr Lim Tean, announced the new amount Mr Xu needs to pay for costs and disbursements in a Wednesday morning Facebook post.

“I appeal to you to donate generously to Terry’s crowdfunding campaign so that the full amount can be raised this week…Every dollar donated to Terry’s cause is a cannon shot from the People that they will not allow the draconian Defamation laws to drown out our freedoms and liberty.”

Mr Xu shared his lawyer’s post and wrote that it had taken 19 days last month to raise the funds needed to pay damages, “thanks to the generosity of the 2055 individuals contributing to the crowdfunding.”

He noted that the amount needed could not, “unfortunately,” be donated to charity, as this is “meant to pay off the Prime Minister’s lawyers.”

“Gone are the days where political opponents can be sued into oblivion by means of heavy damages and legal costs awarded by the courts. Of course, that might possibly change again if anyone were to be designated a Political Significant Person under FICA,” added Mr Xu. /TISG


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