Singapore blogger crowdfunds $99,000 to pay PM damages in defamation case


FILE PHOTO: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singaporean blogger said on Monday he had raised S$133,000 ($98,840) via crowdfunding on social media to cover damages he was ordered to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a defamation case filed by the city-state's leader.

Lee had sued Leong Sze Hian, a financial advisor, after he shared on Facebook an online news article that linked the premier to a financial scandal at Malaysia's state fund 1MDB.

Lee's lawyers have said such links were "false and baseless". Leong had deleted the November 2018 Facebook post within three days of sharing it, complying with a government request.

The Singapore high court on March 24 ordered him to pay Lee S$133,000.

"I am very happy, very grateful," he told Reuters on Monday.

Leong made the announcement on Facebook late on Sunday, when he posted: "It is finished. All paid for."

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, political opponents and online commentators for defamation.

($1 = 1.3456 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Martin Petty)

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