PM Lee’s strong suit shows 3 weaknesses

So PM Lee Hsien Loong has decided that he will sue blogger Roy Ngerng of unless Ngerng apologises, takes down an offending article and pays for damages and costs.

The letter of demand is an old-school weapon – heavy, effective, and double-edged. It also has serious knock-on effects, and pretty much ignores everything else going on in the environment. It’s basically a nuclear weapon from the medieval age, if monks had spent more time studying physics instead of perfecting beer. I for one am glad there were no medieval nukes.

Because beer.

The most interesting thing about the letter of demand is the fact that it is a reminder of a persistent weakness in the G’s (or at least PM’s) gameplan.

1) The G hasn’t convincingly won the communication battle against Ngerng’s sometimes dubious statistics and claims

It horrifies me a little to realise that Ngerng, operating almost solo and with no resources, could pose a real communication threat to the G mechanism.

PM had to resort to the G’s (and the PAP’s) traditional area of strength – lawyers – and call upon legal juggernaut Davinder Singh to try to bring Ngerng’s campaign under control. Such legal action may be justifiable, but the fact that it has been deemed necessary says a lot about how much of a threat the PM thinks a blogger like Ngerng is to his credibility. Does the PM have an itchy lawyer trigger finger, or is Ngerng’s really so convincing?

2) The narrative of a lawsuit is elitist

Roy is an individual with few resources. PM can afford to summon a top-drawer lawyer to make demands of his opponents. The threat of costs and damages to Ngerng is substantial, yet are perhaps a drop in the bucket of the world’s highest-paid PM. “I am powerful; watch your words or I’ll sue” it seems to say. “Respect me or you will be destroyed”.

I’m not saying that the letter of demand was baseless, but it certainly reinforces the top-down, brute force, elitist narrative that PM and the G are trying so hard to shed. While a legal victory may seem assured, this will have to be counted as a step backwards for PM’s image. Ironic, since it’s a defamation suit that’s being threatened.

3) Ngerng now has the opportunity to evolve and gain both credibility and audience

There’s a humourous but true adage – don’t argue with fools, they will only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. In this case, the opposite could be true. Using the steel gauntlet of Drew and Napier to pummel Ngerng first requires dragging him up to PM’s playing field (for said pummelling). Ngerng may get bloodied, but will could come out stronger.

After receiving their various letters of demand, Alex Au, Leslie Chew (Demon-cratic Singapore) and Richard Wan (TRE) have evolved from being incredulous fringe critics to more cautious, but more believable, online voices who have “earned their stripes”.

If Ngerng plays his cards right, he too may earn his coveted place in that fraternity.



  1. Everyone, including the Prime Minister, should have the right to use the courts to seek redress. That’s all anyone needs to understand.


      1. Indeed, there is that effect. My estimation was that the threat to his reputation from a minor player like Ngerng was so small that resorting to a Davinder lawsuit was over the top. There were so many other ways to approach the problem, but PM chose this one. It will probably have it’s intended effect, but will reap many others as well.

    1. If gentleman chooses not to use words to convince and instead rely on the hatchet, then understand that the public can rightly doubt the bugger may not be a gentleman despite appearances. Capish?


      1. Nobody’s questioning PM’s right to start a suit. The real question is whether he should have chosen other solutions, especially in this day and age. Lawsuits are so last generation.

      2. Daniel, what’s that saying… ‘like father, like son’, ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’? A litigious bastard begets the same kind; it runs in the blood.

        In fact, Lee Junior is more devious than his father: he hides his mean streak behind photo ops which he flashes his beaming smile, gets chummy with his groupies and takes selfies with them – the message is ‘I’m friendly, I’m approachable and I’m one of you’.

        At least his father was more honest with his true nature.

  2. It is not a bad thing. Like you said, It forces people to evolve from being incredulous fringe critics to more cautious, but more believable, online voices who have “earned their stripes”.

    I am seeing the SDP making alternative propositions instead of just talk only. Although, its alternative education model proposed is much flawed (still), I see it as a positive move forward. No longer are oppositions just trying to earn a seat with “protest votes” but they are moving towards an alternative government with alternative propositions. All these can only mean that the G will really have to look seriously into the concerns of Singaporeans and if fairness is balanced. Because if the G cannot convincing justify their policies but continue with their hard handed ways of governance, it will only be a matter of time that the G will lose its credibility.

    Everyone knows that the CPF Minimum Sum, its interest rates, its withholding of its citizens’ money is flawed. That’s a fact. Roy needn’t have to call PM a cheat (without proof) to prove the flaws in the CPF. He should learn his lesson. I just hope the G will learn theirs.


    1. That’s for sure. The CPF scheme does have many weaknesses, and there are no overtures being made to address many of them.

      I’m actually secretly hoping for the case to go to court and for someone to have to do an expose on how CPF is invested and accounted for so that everyone will know! 🙂


  3. While I think that Roy is indeed an articulate young man capable of robust debates and objective analysis, the trouble he is in now stems from 2 rather puerile charts putting our PM in the same league as the folks charged for misappropriating church funds.

    Medieval of not, I hope this episode serves as a stern reminder for him to tidy up his act. We don’t want to lose a promising blogger.


    1. Roy’s analyses can sometimes be off, but we can also put it down to a lack of transparency on the part of the G. He has, of late been getting more blatant in his postings, especially on FB, where he will simply decry the G but not have an argument behind the statement.

      Of course, said church leaders are still maintaining that they are innocent. 🙂


  4. It appears to me that our PM is acting from a position of fear and weakness. And he’s about the most powerful man on this island. Why la. So sad.


  5. redress?



    if you so feel defamed



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