A Good Political Public Relations Lesson in Roy Ngerng vs Singapore’s PM Lee Saga

This is the first time I’ve decided to speak my thoughts about this issue.

1 – Was he right to have blogged about it in the first place? 
YES. It’s a free country.

2 – Was he right to have accused the PM of siphoning the money? 
YES. It was a theory he developed. That was his right.

In the world that I live inside my head, I am right until proven wrong. So, PM Lee has to prove that this guy is wrong but in this case, this guy has to prove himself right. He counterproposed for a dialogue but it failed and now, he’s getting charged. NVM.

NO. He should have done a bit more research first by seeking information from the CPF and all the other organizations that he mentioned so as to build his case and present it such that he was left with no other alternative plausible view.

I think that would have bolstered his cause and credibility.

3 – What do I think of his crowdfunding capabilities?
I think he’s done a fantastic job. 1000 people who have contributed want the truth about the CPF. I’m not sure how much more will it take before PM Lee decides that it would be best to let CPF share the information that Singaporeans are asking.

4 – Who’s gonna win?
Singaporeans.

Confidence in PM Lee is probably at an all time low since he decided to pull this stunt. PM is probably getting a shock and frustrated at how Roy has decided to respond through rallying support from fellow Singaporeans. Never before happened.

Roy would probably lose this case but he would have earned some respect over the PM. I’m not sure how PM Lee Hsien Loong will respond as he has yet to make any public statement with regards to this issue.

PM is probably now in a predicament, carry on fighting in court and win the case but lose some respect and votes (possibly another GRC since Singaporeans also now realize that even with an opposition in Parliament, all is well) at the next GE. PM Lee could suck in his ego and retract his charges, and probably end up looking like he is guilty to what has been purported by Roy.

OR he could issue a public statement to explain where and how the CPF monies works, thereby possibly opening a larger can of worms on where and how the money is being used and possibly risk losing public confidence in the CPF, GIC and Temasek Holdings or any other organization that is linked to the use of the CPF.

17 thoughts on “A Good Political Public Relations Lesson in Roy Ngerng vs Singapore’s PM Lee Saga

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 4 Jun 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. I asked many Singaporeans one question. Do you know who has all our money? The common answer caught me by surprise. 60% said LKY and his family. They refused to believe me when I said MOF.

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    • So DP, you got information (I mean real account data and money flow) to prove that it is MOF? Guess not.
      So anyone who say LKY can sue you as well since they don’t need to prove their case in order to sue you just like this roy case.

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  3. I think many people have come to or awaken to the same conclusion as you. Hopefully this is the beginning of an active citizenry. This is history in making and RN could be the next PM!

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      • Many people made similar comments when Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, W Bush, and Obama became the Presidents of USA. America has been through so many Presidents and is still the world’s most powerful nation.
        Now compare it with North Korea with grandpa, father and son leadership and see where they are today.
        So stop the FUD!

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  4. We chinese have an idion “騎虎難下“ it literally means climbing on top of the tiger and found it hard to get down.
    I agree with you. The age that we lived in is so dramatically different when defamation suits are first used by the leaders. I personally believed that we have delinked our courts from the UK legal system (from Queens Counsel to Senior Council was the first change) is precisely to limit the ruling within our country and not to go beyond Singapore shores. Anyone found guilty has no reprieve unless one leaves the country in exile. There are cases such as Tang Liang Hong and Francis Seow. The clamping down on the Law Society bears witness to this ‘control’ as well. Quite unfortunate.
    Yes that reflects sovereignty of our nation but consequently we don’t have a world court if one feels justice is not served.
    So back to this. On one hand, it is much easier for a common citizen to clear his/her name by hauling the person to court to answer for comments that devalues one’s reputation. But for a politician, the added weight and opinion on the electorate will make using this route a double edged sword.
    True. When someone choose not to believe in you, no matter how much evidence are shown to prove otherwise, the person still won’t believe you. But what of those who are still being open minded about it and like to see the evidence?
    Hence the suit only serves to show that there are things being hidden, there are skeletons in the closet. Even though there isn’t any, the actions to edit content on the websites and also the defamation suit says otherwise.
    In this scenario, defamation suit will only build more resentment and create less trust in the government. The best way is to argue one’s case with full disclosure of information so that learned citizens understands what is really going on instead of keeping all of us guessing.
    The environment in which information is distributed, i.e. make light of negative reports and shouting out loud when there’s a lot of positives to the point it is viewed as propaganda, doesn’t help the government in the long run and it is happening now as people are starting to make light of reports on the Main Steam Media. This factor may contribute to decline in readership and subscription of ST.
    So our dear PM has found himself in a corner. Yes he may feel his reputation is at stake but the manner in which to salvage the reputation is now seen as a way to cover up and instead has played into the hands of those who opposed him. He should have just argue his case openly with clear evidences that is open to scrutiny from MOF, CPF, TH and GIC so that he can at once destroy the accusation by Roy, discredit Roy and earn respect from Singaporeans.

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  5. Nah it’s not the first time political commenters or aspiring politicians attempt to rally support (moral, financial) when persecuted by the PAP. Previous opposition candidates like Chee also tried doing so. You know what’s different? The people. Back then, no one really cared outside of a small group of diehard opposition supporters who were rabidly anti establishment and aimed to overthrow the ruling party. The PAP back then in the JB jaya and Chee days managed to hoodwink the majority through self vaunting propaganda through its state controlled mouthpiece SPH and Mediacorp, running articles that portray them in a mocking and humiliating light, disallowing any form of peaceful assembly and protests, and more. How things have drastically changed. The reason and that’s the main reason for the difference is that now almost everybody under the age of 30 hates PAP. It’s not an exaggeration. The majority of core PAP supporters and voters are aged 50 and above. The baby boomers. As you go down each age bracket you get fewer and fewer. The aged 30 and below voters only began voting about 9 years ago, barely have taken part in two elections. The downfall of PAP was set in motion in 2000 when it 1. Began importing foreigners in unusually high numbers (compared to any other country in the world) and giving them PR status freely to artificially drive up the GDP (in part stimulated by a property boom that was just a bubble, which never actually burst since 2005, this bubble has been consistently getting bigger and still yet to burst. Besides its effect on real estate, the population Ponzi scheme means that fake GDP is generated. When more people live in a place, they consume and spend. They go out to eat, buy groceries, buy car, etc. which creates demand for businesses and so on.
    2. Building the two casinos to artificially drive up GDP which in turn caused social problems
    It’s nothing to do with Roy or how “special” he is. He isn’t. The last time somebody persecuted by the PAP received heightened media attention was Chee Soon Juan during the GE, when he publicly taunted Goh which was PM at the time during a walkabout. Goh responded by suing Chee. That was before so many Singaporeans hate the government.

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  6. I have to disagree with you that on your point that “one is right until proven wrong”. For example, can you tell the whole world that a woman is a prostitute (that’s slander by the way) or publish an article or opinion that says Nestle is producing milk that has substances harmful to children (also slander), and then expect the woman and Nestle to prove that what you have written or said is not true. Really?

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  7. Pingback: 8 people who suddenly become political advisers after Lee Hsien Loong sued CPF blogger | Mothership.SG

  8. Wow, I can’t believe how wrong and misconstrued your blog post is. He was not ‘charged’. He was ‘sued’. There is a clear difference. It is not a crime to say that PM lee is a goondu or that PM lee is siphoning fund. No, its not a crime and no one will be charged for it. BUT, PM Lee does have a right to protect his reputation, and hence, it is within his personal capacity to sue Roy for damages.
    Roy did not commit a crime, but he did ruin somebody’s reputation, as such that somebody has the right to sue for damages.
    On top of that, you are not ‘right until proven wrong’. The onus lies on the accuser, in this case, Roy, to prove that his points were factual and not just based on hearsay.
    For example, what if one day, my neighbour calls the police and claims that I have stolen his television set. In your world of ‘right until proven wrong’, my neighbour is right, and I must prove my neighbour wrong. But what if I have no alibi? Then I will go to jail, not because I was proven guilty of a crime, but because I could not disprove my guilt. In any case, I believe the onus is on both sides.
    Roy made claim, and with all claims, there must be evidence to make such a claim. If he can provide that evidence, he will go off scot free no questions asked. But if he cannot provide evidence of his claim, then his claim is unsupported and hence false.
    On top of that, Davinder Singh, representing LHL, did not in fact sue Roy at all. He merely sent a letter asking Roy to remove the posts and apologise. Roy did remove and apoogise. However, it was found that Roy still distributed those articles and videos to several people and news agencies. As such, his apology was insincere and although the posts were removed, he still committed libellous acts. This was what instigated LHL to bring him to court.

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    • Wow, what a twisted mind…

      If you think PM has a right to sue, why has he not sued Gopalan Nair who openly challenged to meet him in an American court? Remember, Nair is a Singapore fugitive and has written far more malicious posts against PAP and LHL in particular. If you are so clueless, the reason is that Singapore PAP devised a twisted law just to allow *them* to sue anyone who opposes them. It’s like North Korean having laws against badmouthing the dear leader. Get it?

      Also, why do you think PM has a right to bankrupt a citizen *even* if he defames him? What is the proportion here? Do you cut off someone’s hand because he steals? Do you kill someone because (s)he is a LGBT? Yes, some barbarian countries still do that. So are you proud of these “barbarian” defamation laws? Have you seen Obama and Cameron going around suing their critics?

      So you believe anyone who questioned Madoff should have been bankrupted and jailed? Here you have a PM who refuses to open the book for public to scrutinize. It has been operating in the dark for almost half a century. Do you think it is okay to continue for another half century? There won’t be any accusation if he and his father and wife have been transparent about the money that they manage for the people of Singapore.

      Enough said.

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      • Yes, I do think PM has the right to sue. In fact, I believe anyone has the right to sue if he or she has been defamed. If someone accuses me of a crime in order to bring down my reputation, I would sue him because it is in my rights.
        There are no laws against criticism. You understand that right? You can call LHL an idiot. You can call LHL an asshole. No problem. BUT, there is line, and that line is falsely accusing someone of a crime. That is wrong, and that was what Roy did.
        Finally, can you tell me, what is it about ‘transparency’ that you want? Many people don’t understand the fact that the books are ALREADY opened. The facts are already there for all to see. Transparency is a very motherhood statement. Can you tell me exactly what is it that you want CPF to reveal that they have not? Because I can confirm you that all the information is out there, just that you need to go to the gov website and look for it yourself. Everyone is parroting “transparency” but when you ask them,
        “So what is it exactly that you want to know about CPF?”, they go
        “I dunno la, everything lor”.
        And if Roy’s claims are correct, he simply has to prove it! Those on Roy’s side should be happy that he was sued. Now we will see if he was telling the truth or along or was just spouting lies and half-truths.

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      • Three points –

        1. PM’s and President’s do not have or use such “right” to sue their critics. LHL in particular will not be successful in suing Gopalan Nair in an American court because his “right” is very limited. Of course, in Singapore, his father/party gave him EVERY “right” to sue and bankrupt others. This is NOT normal in a democracy.

        2. In libel lawsuits elsewhere, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant’s statements are intentionally false. But in Singapore the onus is on the defendant to prove that his statement is true. So you can’t accuse Madoff of running a Ponzi scheme even though it is OBVIOUS that his return is improbable. Similarly you can’t accuse Temasek (or its chairman) of being dishonest because its return is better than Warren Buffet’s. The fact that no one can access Temasek’s book to verify their claim means no one can make such speculations even though it is OBVIOUS that Temasek’s high investment return is improbable.

        3. Finally, I suggest you visit Professor Balding’s blog to understand transparency. Even a Professor can’t square the numbers from your so called publicly available data.

        To paraphrase your words –

        And if LHL’s claims are correct, he simply has to prove it! Those on LHL’s side should be happy that he was transparent. Now we will see if he was telling the truth all along or was just spouting lies and half-truths.

        That’s why LHL still has not sued Nair in an American court. Get it?

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      • 1. So in your view, LHL or the president, or any MP for that matter have no rights? They are not humans? They don’t have access to the basic rights to court like me and you?
        2. Which country do you refer to? Can you cite some examples?
        Here is an excerpt from:
        http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Libel+and+Slander
        “To recover in a libel or slander suit, the plaintiff must show evidence of four elements: that the defendant conveyed a defamatory message; that the material was published, meaning that it was conveyed to someone other than the plaintiff; that the plaintiff could be identified as the person referred to in the defamatory material; and that the plaintiff suffered some injury to his or her reputation as a result of the communication.”
        This is the internationally recognised definition mind you, not only based in Singapore. The plaintiff does not have to prove that what was said is false. He just has to prove those four elements above.
        “In general, there are four defenses to libel or slander: truth, consent, accident, and privilege.”
        The above is what Roy can use as his DEFENSE. Note that the onus is NOT on the plaintiff to disprove, but on ROY to prove his truth.
        3. So one Professor agreeing with Roy makes him right? Thousands of economists agree that minimum wage is an ineffective policy. In fact, everyone in an Intro to Econs course learns the flaws of min wage, but has that stopped Roy from advocating for it? Clearly not.
        PS: This has been an interesting back and forth, unlike the mindless drivel one usually gets in TRS. As an aside, I do believe that it is in clearly bad taste for PM to sue Roy. But in no way do I agree with Roy’s claims. I had run through and analysed his data on the article that he compared the cost of education in Singapore vs other countries. That was long before the CPF issue came about. What I found was a huge amount of discrepancies and irregularities and how he cleverly misrepresented data in order to achieve his goal. I initially pointed them out to him nicely but I got shut down and he simply called me a PAP mole without even addressing my points. This is why I do not like Roy and will not support him. He asks for debates and dialogues but when someone asks the same from him, he will not listen to you. Honestly, I was actually on the opposition side, but ironically, it was Roy himself that pushed me back to PAP. I still support Kenneth Jeyeratnem and RP. If they ever do contest in West Coast, I would vote for him or WP, but not for Roy or Han Hui Hui or any other opposition for that matter.
        PPS: KJ has also come out against both Gilbert Goh and Roy’s calls to abolish CPF. In my opinion, CPF is actually a good system. Even KJ has acknowledged that. What we need is mere tweaks like higher returns and also more help for the needy to be able to meet min sum and also an increase in wages for the lower end, this is what KJ also has called for. I think what the oppositions should do is to distance themselves from the extreme and return to the centre. There are many like me who simply vote for PAP because people like GG make a mockery of the opposition. There are people like HHH that can’t even get her grammar right, and doesn’t see the use of getting a degree to educate herself. I mean, if you want to improve the economy, you should at least have some basic knowledge in it so that the policies you suggest won’t have unpredicted negative effects. Im all for opposition, but it has to be the right opposition. KJ has the qualifications and the intellect. But he lacks a solid GRC team and good public relations. I’ve seen him at his rallies, I think I can speak better. But i judge him based on his work, not on his charisma, sadly not everyone will do the same. Im starting to sound a rambling idiot at this point.
        Thanks again for the debate,
        Jace.

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  9. 1 & 2. I should have been clearer that the PMs and Presidents I referred to are heads of states in general, not specific to Singapore. The KEY point here is LHL is not an ordinary citizen. He is a public figure and the bar for libel is much higher. I am curious why you chose FreeDictionary definition over Wikipedia which is the #1 hit when you google. In any case Wikipedia includes legal precedents and case studies. You selectively cited sources to falsely claim that Singapore libel standard conforms to international norm. All previous libel cases involving foreign publications in the past were filed in Singapore. They didn’t sue FEER in Hong Kong, Financial Times in the UK, and Bloomberg in the US for obvious reason – they could not have won *any* of these cases in those jurisdictions. It is well established under international law that public officials must tolerate more, rather than less, criticism than private individuals.

    Here is a quote from Wikipedia on public officials –

    “For a celebrity or a public official, the person must prove the first three steps and that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth, which is usually specifically referred to as ‘proving malice’.”

    There are many scholar articles on Singapore defamation laws, all negative as far as I can tell. You should read them up if you are seriously interested in this subject.

    3. Again, we were talking about CPF transparency, not minimum wage. I have a big spiel on minimum wage but it is off topic here.

    Finally, I am not saying RN’s research on CPF is on target or off although I am pretty comfortable with Prof Balding’s findings. If you are interested, you should spend time reading through his blog. Even Kenneth Jeyeratnem paid a visit to Prof Balding to share their findings. That said, I am defending RN’s right to his free speech. His blog post was NOT malicious in my opinion. It is, however, morally wrong for a head of state to attempt to BANKRUPT him over a small misstep. It is also wrong to be extra secretive about people’s retirement funds for a prolonged period of time (half a century!) If financial history is any guide, this is not going to end well for the people of Singapore.

    I hope I have given you and the readers something to think about. Good bye.

    P.s. you are being very “Singaporean” when you look down on people with “low” qualification. I suppose you believe, Ronald Reagan, an actor, is not qualified to be the President of the world’s greatest nation. Please be aware of your prejudice and you will be a better person.

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