Magazine pays damages to Singapore leaders: lawyer

November 18, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFP

The Far Eastern Economic Review and its editor have paid over 400,000 Singapore dollars (290,000 US) to settle a defamation suit filed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, the magazine’s lawyer said Wednesday.

“They have paid it yesterday,” said Peter Low, who defended the Hong Kong-based publication and its editor Hugo Restall against the defamation suit filed by the premier and his father Lee Kuan Yew.

The two parties reached a settlement on the amount that FEER and Restall should pay the two Singapore leaders, said Low.

Court orders issued on November 13 to enforce the settlement showed the prime minister got 200,000 Singapore dollars in damages and 30,000 Singapore dollars in legal costs.

Lee Kuan Yew, 86, who now serves as a senior adviser in the cabinet, was to be paid 150,000 Singapore dollars in damages and 25,000 Singapore dollars in legal costs, the documents said.

The settlement was reached after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2008 decision finding the defendants guilty of defaming the Lees in a 2006 article based on an interview with Chee Soon Juan, an opposition party leader.

Dow Jones and Co., which owns the magazine, said in a statement that it disagreed with the verdict and denied any wrongdoing, but would settle the damages instead of prolonging the process.

“The Court casts significant doubt as to whether Singapore will ever recognise the fair and honest reporting privilege accorded to responsible journalism — a privilege available in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries with diverse histories and cultures,” Dow Jones said.

FEER, at its height one of Asia’s most influential and respected publications, is to be shut down in December, one of a growing number of newspapers and magazines which have fallen victim to the Internet age.

The article at the heart of the case — entitled “Singapore’s ‘Martyr’, Chee Soon Juan” — described the opposition Singapore Democratic Party secretary general’s battle against the ruling People’s Action Party and its leaders.

In the article, editor Restall also touched on the success of Singapore officials in libel suits against critics.

Singaporean leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from domestic critics and foreign publications.

They say the lawsuits are necessary to protect their reputations from unfounded attacks and dismiss criticism from human rights and media groups accusing Singapore of suppressing media freedom.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iV_tffIE-6e17Dq0-b8T3qZIBEKA

 

Magazine to pay six-figure damages to Singapore leaders
AFP

A magazine and its editor have been ordered to pay Singapore’s prime minister and his father over 400,000 dollars (290,000 US) for defamation, court documents showed Tuesday.

A magazine and its editor have been ordered to pay Singapore’s prime minister and his father over 400,000 dollars (290,000 US) for defamation, court documents showed Tuesday.

The High Court ordered the Review Publishing Company, publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), and editor Hugo Restall to pay 200,000 dollars in damages and 30,000 dollars in legal costs to Premier Lee Hsien Loong.

His father, the former leader Lee Kuan Yew, will get 150,000 dollars in damages and 25,000 dollars in legal costs.

The penalties were set after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2008 decision finding the defendants guilty of defaming the Lees in a 2006 article based on an interview with Chee Soon Juan, an opposition party leader.

Dow Jones and Co., which owns the magazine, said in a statement Tuesday that it disagreed with the verdict and denied any wrongdoing but would settle the damages instead of prolonging the process.

FEER, at its height one of Asia’s most influential and respected publications, is to be shut down in December, one of a growing number of newspapers and magazines which have fallen victim to the Internet age.

The article at the heart of the case — entitled “Singapore’s ‘Martyr’, Chee Soon Juan” — described the opposition Singapore Democratic Party secretary general’s battle against the ruling People’s Action Party and its leaders.

In the article, Restall also touched on the success of Singapore officials in libel suits against critics.

Restall sent AFP on Tuesday a copy of two separate November 13 rulings in favour of the Lees along with a statement from Dow Jones.

“The Court casts significant doubt as to whether Singapore will ever recognise the fair and honest reporting privilege accorded to responsible journalism — a privilege available in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries with diverse histories and cultures,” said Dow Jones.

Singaporean leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from critics and foreign publications. They say the lawsuits are necessary to protect their reputations from unfounded attacks.

Lee Kuan Yew, 86, now a senior cabinet adviser, served as prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

http://news.ph.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3708540