An anonymous reader shares a report: On November 7, 2018, Leong Sze Hian, a financial advisor and blogger, shared an article on his Facebook page, without comment. The article, published by Malaysian website The Coverage, alleged that Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had become a target of ongoing investigations in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, a massive case of graft in Malaysia that drew in banks in Singapore, Hollywood stars, and Saudi royalty. The article claimed that Malaysia, under former Prime Minister Najib Razak, had signed unfair deals with Singapore in return for help to launder stolen funds. These were serious allegations, particularly in Singapore, where the government is ultra-sensitive to any suggestion of corruption.
The response, unsurprisingly, was strong and swift: the law and home affairs minister issued a clear rebuttal, Singapore's High Commission in Kuala Lumpur described the article as libelous, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore lodged a police report against the author of a similar article published in the States Times Review, a website run by a Singaporean in Australia who is highly critical of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party. The Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore's media regulator, told Leong to remove the link from his Facebook page; he did. But it was already too late to save him from trouble. Two days later, he found out that Prime Minister Lee was going to sue him for defamation. Last month, the High Court ruled that Leong did defame Lee and ordered him to pay almost $100,000 (133,000 Singapore dollars) in damages. It's an extraordinary sum for a simple Facebook link that stayed up for only three days. But there's a particular legal precedent in Singapore: public leaders are usually awarded higher damages when they win defamation suits related to their character or integrity. In his judgment, Justice Aedit Abdullah quoted a previous case in which the courts stated that public "leaders are generally entitled to higher damages also because of their standing in Singapore society and devotion to public service."
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