TOC's Terry Xu to represent himself in court against PM Lee's defamation suit

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
PM Lee Hsien Loong (left) and TOC chief editor Terry Xu. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore, Terry Xu/Facebook)
PM Lee Hsien Loong (left) and TOC chief editor Terry Xu. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore, Terry Xu/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — The chief editor of the sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC) editor will represent himself in court in a defamation suit filed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against the website.

As such, Terry Xu said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (10 September) that there will be no crowdfunding for his legal defence as there are no lawyer fees involved and that court filing fees are manageable.

“I do not wish to fight the case via an attorney because of the cost involved and neither do I want to pass the financial burden of engaging a legal team to supportive members of the public by conducting a crowd-funder,” said Xu, 37.

While acknowledging that he lacks the “near-infinite resources” of PM Lee, Xu claimed he was taking a stand against “uncalled-for intimidation”.

He added, “I would like to have the opportunity to ask my Prime Minister — straight in his face — why he choose to sue me for repeating allegations made by his two siblings and not them, for making the same allegations back in 2017.”

Last Thursday, Lee, 67, sued Xu over an alleged defamatory article published on the TOC website in August. Court documents filed by Davinder Singh Chambers LLC claimed that the article had caused Lee to be “gravely injured in his character and reputation”, and that he had been brought into “public scandal, odium and contempt”.

The day before, PM Lee had demanded that the offending article be taken down immediately. The Prime Minister’s Office also demanded that Xu publicly issue a “full and unconditional apology” by 4 September and an undertaking not to publish any similar allegations.

Xu responded by refusing to comply, stating that the contents of the TOC article “are not defamatory”.

The article, which is still online on TOC’s website and Facebook page as of Tuesday afternoon, made reference to a Facebook post by 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”.

It also alludes to allegations made by the PM’s siblings, Wei Ling and 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.

A pre-trial conference for the case has been scheduled for 15 October.

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