The Associated Press
Published: September 14, 2006
SINGAPORE Singapore's prime minister and his father, who founded the modern city-state and holds a Cabinet position, have filed a defamation suit against the publisher and editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Citing court documents, Dow Jones Newswires reported Thursday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, filed the suit on Aug. 22 against Hong Kong-based Review Publishing Company Ltd. and FEER editor Hugo Restall. FEER is owned by Dow Jones & Co. Inc.
The lawsuit centers on an article published in July about Chee Soon Juan, an opposition politician in Singapore.
Restall wrote about Chee's campaign for more democratic freedoms in the tightly controlled city-state and how the ruling People's Action Party has sued a number of opposition politicians. The article also criticized the government's handling of a corruption scandal at a charity, the National Kidney Foundation.
Chee, an outspoken critic of Singapore's government, was bankrupted in February and barred from standing in elections after failing to pay former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong some 500,000 Singapore dollars in libel damages for comments he made during the 2001 elections. In March, he was jailed for eight days for questioning the independence of Singapore's judiciary.
FEER's publisher and Restall have until Sept. 25 to appear at Singapore's High Court to respond to the suit, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
A FEER spokesman declined to comment.
Before filing the suit, the Lees sent a letter to Review Publishing demanding that it remove the interview from the magazine's Web site, issue an apology and pay compensation.
Review Publishing proposed publishing the Lees' letter on its Web site and asked for an interview with Lee Kuan Yew, who ran the city-state from 1965, after it separated from a short-lived federation with Malaysia, to 1990. His son took over in 2004 from Goh, though the elder Lee retains the Cabinet title of Minister Mentor.
Ruling party leaders have successfully sued several opposition politicians and journalists for defamation over the years. They say they sue to protect their reputations.
Domestic and international critics, including the U.S. State Department and London-based rights group Amnesty International, have accused Singapore's rulers of using defamation lawsuits to stifle opponents.