The Reform Party is demanding a full account from the Prime Minister in regards to any use of state resources in connection with the defamation suit involving blogger, Roy Ngerng in his private capacity as Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
The Reform Party wrote in the letter addressed to the Prime Minister Office stating that it is concerned that PM Lee is currently engaged in a defamation suit with Ngerng in his personal capacity, citing that any ministers involved in legal proceedings in a personal capacity may have implications for them in their official position.
It is of PM Lee’s admission that he is seeking a significant sum in excess of S$400,000 against the unemployed former health worker blogger is a private matter and has nothing to do with the official duties of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), wrote the party.
It went on to ask if PM Lee can assure the citizens that he can carry out his duties as a public servant funded by the taxpayer and simultaneously be engaged in a legal wrangle which has now reached the high court, without significant impact on those official duties and ask for such assurances to be made public.
In the letter signed off by Secretary General, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, “PM must give a clear and detailed accounting of all or any taxpayer-funded state resources, official resources, official machinery and official personnel used in the period starting with the monitoring of bloggers, research and information gathering through to the issuing of legal letters, the follow-up, the subsequent legal action and the current hearings to assess damages and the media and PR management throughout.”
The party explained that it believes that there is a need for the prime minster to inform the public as to how much time and what resources were expended by state legal officers and civil servants in advising the PM on the implications of legal proceedings in his personal capacity due potential implications for conflict.
TOC understands that Reform Party has sent the letter to the Prime Minister Office on the matter.
Below are the questions which the party has poised to PM Lee, the full letter can be viewed via the party’s website. (link)
- How much time has your Official Press Secretary -a civil servant whose salary is also tax payer funded –spent in meeting journalists, researching, composing and writing letters on your behalf to foreign newspapers such as the Economist, defending your position over your personal lawsuit ? What economic value would you put on this or if it is not possible to assign a dollar value how many man-hours have been expended so far?
- Did the PMO bill you personally for the total cost of using your Press Secretary on your private business?
- Did you pay the cost of other resources used to assist you in your suit against Roy Ngerng?
- State Media photos show you arriving at court in a chauffeured limousine. Did you use your own car or an official car to transport you to the hearing when you gave evidence at that hearing?
- If it was an official car, did you pay for the use of the car, the driver, the petrol?
- Who paid for the cost of your bodyguards or any police escort to accompany you to the hearing?
- Was any extra security in place and who paid for that?
- Did you take official or unpaid leave for the day you spent in court fighting your private matter or do you expect taxpayers to finance it?
- You are paid at least $2.4 million p.a. out of state funds as PM to run the country and for your MP duties. How much of your working time has been spent on your private lawsuit against Roy Ngerng? Again can you assign a dollar value to this and will you be refunding the taxpayer?
- We are further disturbed by your admission in court under cross-examination by Roy Ngerng that you had been watching him for some time “making more and more outrageous allegations about the CPF, stopping short of accusing me of doing bad things personally, but coming closer and closer to saying that.” Please clarify how much time, for some time is, in real terms. Mr Ngerng for example, started blogging in 2012. How much of your working time would you estimate has been spent in “watching” what bloggers are saying or might be about to say? Do you watch these bloggers on official machinery? Do you consider that you can monitor all these bloggers over a period of time and still run the country efficiently? Would you say this is the best use of taxpayers’ money?
- Maybe you do not watch the bloggers personally. Do you in fact watch them personally or do you have private or state funded staff watch them for you? Have you set up a special unit within the PMO to monitor bloggers and social media including Mr Ngerng for comments that you do not like personally or that you consider defamatory of you in your personal capacity? Is this being paid for out of State funds?
- You are presumably aware that Tan Tock Seng Hospital dismissed Mr Ngerng for among other things, misusing hospital resources. Similarly NUS sacked Chee Soon Juan in the early 1990s for using office stamps for a personal letter even though he had sought permission. Would you not agree that if you have used state resources for your own personal interest such as this lawsuit against Roy Ngerng, then you are guilty of the same misappropriation? At the very least would you not consider that you are giving the taxpayer poor value for the salary they provide?
[“source – theonlinecitizen.com”]