The article below has been contributed by Arthur Wong, 38, lecturer
The Roy Ngerng saga has been played out for the past few weeks. By now, I think many Singaporeans are already tired of the constant harping of the same issues. In fact, many of my friends have been asking what the issue is actually. The long and short of it is that Roy Ngerng said that our Prime Minister criminally misappropriated the nation’s CPF monies. Many people have since put forward their stand that such claims are ridiculous and are defamatory.
But Roy Ngerng, despite apologizing at first and offering compensation, is now attempting a curious game of strike and parry, so much so that watchers like us are getting a little confused with his legal strategy.
Here are 3 reasons why a layman like me feel that he should seek new legal advice:
- Unclear legal strategy
As hitherto mentioned, Ngerng had already issued an apology through his lawyer and had published this letter on his blog. He removed the offending articles and also offered compensation of S$5,000 to the PM based on his financial situation (which is hogwash, but more of that later).
The curious thing is that shortly after he gave his apology, he started to recirculate the offending articles and video again, changing the settings to private and so on. Now, some may wonder what this is about, and here’s my guess:
I think his lawyer’s strategy is to demonstrate to the courts later, that his apology was never meant to be… and because of a deadline, they had to pretend to apologise. Meanwhile, Ngerng stands by his articles and that is why he continues to circulate this to his private group (which includes journalists, so it might as well have been the rest of the world).
This is, IMHO, a severe lack of strategic judgment and whoever is advising him has just given him a rope to hang himself.
- Unclear legal knowledge
Curiously, his lawyer made a statement that the offer of S$5,000 was based on Ngerng’s “modest living and income” from his job at the time of the offer.
Now anyone with basic knowledge of defamation suits will know that the judgment of damages is based on the person you defamed, not the originator of the defamatory article. So today if I slime Barack Obama and he decides to sue me, he will not seek judgment based on what HDB flat I stay in and how much I make, but rather what the damage has caused to his reputation and standing as the President of the United States.
So to say that – look, I defamed you, I’m sorry, here’s S$5,000 cos that’s what I have in the kitty… is naïve and foolish – and we can assume it was his lawyer who ill-advised him on this.
- Further Incrimination
Many people know that Ngerng was an actor. Well, actually… an aspiring one. He obviously loves the limelight and all. So my heart really goes out to him as he is clearly being made use of for the political purpose of bringing down the government. The story according to them, is that the Government is causing us daily suffering and strife.
The problem is that his follow-on behavior from the law suit and his own apology, leads to further incrimination to his case and will not do him any favour. Crowdsourcing donations, holding protests at Hong Lim Park – these are all put together with his “supporters” like Han Hui Hui, Gilbert Goh, Tan Kin Lian and so on. If you are a casual political observer, you would know that this is the gang that has repeatedly protested against anything from having too few foreigners, to too many foreigners, to supporting CPF, to discrediting CPF. You get the idea – basically anything that can catch some emotions of Singaporeans and help them to slime the government, even if it meant their original positions can take a total 180 degrees turn.
My advice to the young Ngerng is to pry your eyes wide open and see if these “friends” are real or just making use of you for this moment. 20 years from now, when you are 53, let us see where they are and if they still walk beside you.
So, I suggest Ngerng to drop his lawyer now and maybe use Mr. Subhas Anandan.
Although it is common knowledge that if you go to Mr. Subhas… Roy is already guilty. At least that guy has better legal knowledge than Nrerng’s current counsel.
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