Comments on Mr Singh’s letters of demands

I refer to PM Lee’s lawyer Mr Davinder Singh’s first letter of demand to Roy Ngerng.

Point No. 8 of the letter claims that Roy’s article was clearly malicious. It is not clear why Mr Singh characterized the article as such as he made no explanations. Is a false claim automatically and clearly a malicious one?

Mr Singh’s claim for damage is based on Roy’s article being widely read and widely circulated through the internet. However, an article’s wide readership and circulation doesn’t necessarily imply damage done to PM Lee’s reputation. If readers do not believe Roy’s supposed assertion on the PM, then no damage has been done. Examples abound from the internet and from the press of people who do not believe Roy’s supposed assertion:

• Most of the points he raised were without merit and probably reflected a lack of understanding of how complex financial systems work
ST Forum, CPF cannot behave like hedge fund, Jason Soon Hun Khim, 27 May 2014

• Unfortunately he said the wrong thing and got sued by a government minister
TR Emeritus, I’d debate the person openly if he accuses me of something, Ben, 26 May 2014

• For a start, I do think this blogger Mr. Roy Ngerng has probably gone a little too far by saying you misappropriated funds. It is indeed not well substantiated. I think you can rest assured Sir that most Singaporeans are well conceived enough to know that this is not well served on you.
TR Emeritus, An open letter to PM Lee Hsien Loong, Y. C. Ho, 26 May 2014

• He could be overzealous this time to say something unfair to you. Even many of us think it was a bit overboard.
TR Emeritus, What is PM Lee trying to prove?, Albert, 25 May 2014

• If you look closely at Roy Ngerng’s defamatory infographic, it defamed not only PM Lee but also other individuals like Tharman and Ho Ching.
TR Emeritus, 5 myths about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Tan Hong Kit, 23 May 2014

Thus far, of so many posts on the Internet about the law suit, I have not come across one that expresses agreement with Roy’s supposed assertion that the PM misappropriated CPF money. In that case, where is the supposed damage to PM Lee’s reputation?

Some people assume that the damage, based on past cases, should be around $200,000 to $300,000. But that is the price of the PM’s reputation, not the cost of the damage to the PM’s reputation. The damage to a $1 million Ferrari cannot automatically be $1 million. Suppose the Ferrari’s car plate was damaged, the cost of damage is just the cost of the car plate, not the price of the entire Ferrari. PM Lee’s reputation may be worth $200,000 to $300,000. But the damage to his reputation is not automatically $200,000 to $300,000. The damage has to be quantified.

One way of quantifying damage is through interviews. If we do that, we may find that 60% of Singaporeans do not believe Roy but believes PM Lee instead strongly, passionately, unreservedly and eternally. No amount of Roy can tarnish their good faith and belief in PM Lee. Hence PM Lee’s reputation remains intact and is in no way damaged in so far as his 60% supporters are concerned. Similarly, as much as 40% of Singaporeans are already against the PM to begin with, with or without Roy. Roy’s article did nothing more to tarnish the PM’s already tarnished reputation in this group. So if we exclude the 60% on whom PM Lee’s reputation remains untarnished and the 40% on whom PM Lee’s reputation was already tarnished before Roy wrote his article, there will be no new damage to PM Lee’s reputation arising from Roy’s article.

We can also look at PM Lee’s vote percentage in the next election. If the percentage remains more or less the same, wouldn’t that suggest that the PM’s reputation remains largely intact and does not suffer any material damage?

Mr Singh’s second letter

I refer too to Mr Singh’s second letter of demand to Roy. Mr Singh claims that Roy has opportunistically used the lawsuit to raise his profile and to garner support. But didn’t Mr Singh acknowledge in his earlier letter that Roy has the most popular blog in Singapore and that it was foreseeable that Roy’s article will be widely republished across the internet? Why then would Roy need to use the lawsuit to raise his profile when his profile is already so good? Conversely, if Roy has to resort to using the lawsuit to raise his profile, doesn’t that suggest that the initial damage is somewhat limited? Isn’t Mr Singh contradicting himself somewhat?

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