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Homenews'He wants special treatment' - Shanmugam, Vivian respond to LHY's offer of...

'He wants special treatment' – Shanmugam, Vivian respond to LHY's offer of international arbitration – Singapore News

‘He wants to be treated differently from Singaporeans (and even foreigners) who are sued in Singapore for defamation.’

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SINGAPORE: Cabinet Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan, who are suing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang for defamation, have characterised Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s offer of international arbitration as a desire for “special treatment”.

The ministers are suing Mr Lee over a Facebook post he made on July 23, which referenced their rentals of two state-owned bungalows. The Government issued a correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) to Mr Lee, asserting that his post contained untrue statements.

Mr Lee complied and posted the correction notice but published a new post two days later, saying he stood by what he wrote.

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The ministers, meanwhile, initially sent legal letters to Mr Lee promising to sue him unless he apologised, retracted his allegations and paid damages.

Mr Lee declined to do so and invited the ministers to sue him in the UK since the post was made abroad. The ministers’ legal teams subsequently served court papers on Mr Lee via Facebook Messenger.

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Yesterday (5 Oct), Mr Lee revealed on Facebook that he has suggested to the ministers that the issue can be resolved through an independent arbitration where they each choose an arbitrator of high international standing.

He said, “The Ministers’ nominee could be, if they wish, a retired Singapore Supreme Court judge. The two arbitrators in turn could choose a third individual. The proceedings would be conducted in confidence but the decision would be made public, and be final and binding on all parties.”

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Rejecting this suggestion, the ministers said in a statement late last night: “For decades now, countless Singaporeans have sued in the Singapore Courts for defamation that is published to people in Singapore. These cases are decided by our impartial judiciary which applies the law.

“We have been advised that Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s statements, made about us, are false and defamatory. We gave him an opportunity to withdraw his statements and apologise. Mr Lee did not do so, leaving us no option but to sue.

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“Mr Lee’s statements related to events in Singapore, and were meant primarily for a Singaporean audience. His primary audience was not in the UK. We have sued Mr Lee for a libel that was published to the people in Singapore, which concerns Singaporeans, and which is based on the laws of Singapore.

“If Mr Lee thinks that there is no basis for the legal action, he should welcome the opportunity to defend himself in open Court where he can cross-examine us, and we can cross-examine him, in the full view of the Singapore public.”

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The Ministers went on to claim that the suggestion reveals a desire for special treatment and be exempt from rules ordinary Singaporeans are expected to abide by. They said:

“What Mr Lee really wants is special treatment. He wants to be treated differently from Singaporeans (and even foreigners) who are sued in Singapore for defamation. Mr Lee should explain why he is entitled to make libellous statements, and yet be exempt from the rules that apply to the rest of us.”

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