APPLYING TO HAVE CASE HEARD IN SINGAPORE
After failing to comply with the conditions in the letters of demand sent on Jul 27, Mr Lee said in a Facebook two days later that he was simply stating the facts. He added that the two ministers should sue him in a UK court, as he said he was there at the time.
The ministers then filed separate defamation suits against him in Singapore’s High Court on Aug 2. On the same day, lawyers sent a letter to Mr Lee via Facebook Messenger, informing Mr Lee that defamation proceedings had commenced against him in the Singapore courts.
Mr Lee was asked to let them know, among other things, if he would be engaging lawyers to aid him in the proceedings, by Aug 3. He did not reply.
In separate Statements of Claim, both ministers stated that the offending words in Mr Lee’s post were “false and baseless and were calculated to disparage and impugn” both men and their ministerial offices.
The Statements of Claim did not specify the amount of damages sought. Both are also seeking an injunction to restrain Mr Lee from publishing or disseminating the defamatory allegations, costs and other reliefs.
In their affidavits, dated Aug 14, Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan set out the offending words mentioned in Mr Lee’s Facebook post and gave examples of publications that repeated them to show that they had been “gravely injured in (their) character and reputation, and have been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt”.
For these reasons, they suffered loss and damage, they added.
Arguing for the case to be heard in Singapore, both ministers said they had been advised by lawyers, and believed that Singapore was “clearly and distinctly the most appropriate forum for the trial”.
Both gave reasons that they were ministers in Singapore, were residents here, and that the offending words refer to events in Singapore.
They noted that there had been “substantial publication and republication” of the offending words in Singapore, where various people in Singapore would have read them.
Both wish to confine claims and reliefs to the publication and republication of words in Singapore, and believe that Singapore law was applicable for the claims.
The two ministers believe that Mr Lee was likely in the UK, going by his Jul 29 Facebook post. However, lawyers have been unable to ascertain Mr Lee’s address in the UK.
“If this Honourable Court grants me leave to serve the Originating Claim and Statement of Claim on the defendant out of Singapore, my lawyers will make a further attempt to invite the defendant to nominate lawyers in Singapore or inform DSC (Davinder Singh Chambers) of his residential address for service,” both Mr Shanmugam and Dr Balalakrishnan stated in their respective affidavits.
“If the defendant provides a residential address outside of Singapore for service, my lawyers will endeavour to serve the Originating Claim and Statement of Claim on the defendant at that address.”