SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is suing Terry Xu, Chief Editor of The Online Citizen (TOC), over an alleged defamatory article published last month.
The legal action comes a day after Xu said in a reply to PM Lee that he won’t comply with his demands to immediately remove the article and publicly apologise to him by Wednesday.
TOC said in a post on its Facebook page that a Writ of Summons along with a Statement of Claim has been served by Davinder Singh Chambers on behalf of PM Lee to Xu, on Thursday (5 September), 3.51pm at his house.
“The statement of claim finds fault with an article published on TOC, ‘PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members’, stating that the article contained statements that are false and baseless and were calculated to disparage and impugn PM Lee as well as his office as the Prime Minister,” TOC added.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) wrote to Xu regarding the article’s “false allegations” about the feud and asked the online publication to immediately remove the article from TOC’s website and Facebook page. The PMO also demanded that Xu publicly issue a “full and unconditional apology” by Wednesday and an undertaking not to publish any similar allegations.
Should Xu fail to do so, “PM Lee will have no choice but to hand the matter over to his lawyers to sue to enforce his full rights in law,” the PMO letter added.
In his reply to PM Lee posted on TOC’s Facebook page, Xu said, “Although I do fear that the cost stemming from the possible legal suit from you may be hefty, that is a price that I am willing to pay to not only uphold my principles, but also to uphold my obligations to Singapore and my fellow Singaporeans.”
Xu said that the contents in the TOC article “are not defamatory”.
The article, which was published on 15 August and is still online as of Thursday night, made reference to a Facebook post by PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, in which she shared a Healthy Holistic Living article entitled “Here’s Why Sometimes It Is Okay to Cut Ties with Toxic Family Members”.
In addition, the TOC article also wrote about the allegations made by PM Lee’s siblings, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, concerning their sharp disagreements with their eldest brother about the family home at 38 Oxley Road and the final will drawn up by their late father and Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Xu has eight days to defend the claim by PM Lee.
TOC posted a screenshot of the summons showing that a pre-trial conference has been scheduled on 15 October at 9.30am in the High Court.