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Singapore blogger crowdfunds over $100,000 to pay PM defamation damages

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the People's Action Party arrives to give a speech at a nomination center ahead of the general election in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A Singaporean activist said on Friday he had raised S$144,389 ($108,200) through social media to cover defamation damages he had to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the second such crowdfunding case involving a blogger this month.

The prime minister sued Roy Ngerng for a blog post in 2014 in which Ngerng allegedly implicated Lee in impropriety in connection with how funds in Singapore’s mandatory retirement savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund(CPF), are managed.

In 2015, the Singapore High Court ordered Ngerng to pay the prime minister S$150,000 in damages in addition to S$29,000 in legal fees.

Ngerng said he had revived his fundraising campaign after Leong Sze Hian, a financial adviser, raised S$133,000 this month to cover damages that he was ordered to pay the prime minister in a separate defamation case.

Ngerng said had been making the payments in installments over the last five years.

“We have made it,” Ngerng said in a post on Friday, announcing the completion of the funding.

As the head of a government that has pledged zero tolerance of corruption, Lee, 69, is no stranger to seeking to protect his reputation via legal channels.

Senior figures in the ruling People’s Action Party, including Lee’s late father and the founder of modern-day Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, have previously sued foreign media and political opponents for defamation.

($1 = 1.3348 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Ed Davies and Hugh Lawson)

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