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The article below was originally published in 2018, but was referred to in court this week as the Prime Minister of Singapore continues to pursue a legal action against a private citizen who mistakenly posted on Facebook an erroneous online article by an anonymous third party.
The case is remarkable in that it is singularly rare for a sitting prime minister to pursue a defamation case, whilst simultaneously employing the full apparatus of the state to enact criminal proceedings against the same individual over the same matter.

Sarawak Report questioned the decision at the time and stands by its remarks, now that the case has made it all the way to an open court.
Rightly in a democracy, state officials are by received judgement and understanding expected to have a “thicker skin” than normal individuals when it comes to criticism and attack, given they represent the government which ought to be held to account and subject to opinion in any democracy.

As a counter-balance, these same officials are protected by the formidable apparatus of the state when it comes to defending themselves, as in this case.

So, why did the PM of Singapore decide to take matters so much further into the private sphere of civil law far in order to kick a small man down and can any judgement in this case serve to raise confidence in Singapore’s democracy?
Sarawak Report stands by its original view that this case involves an accusation that had already been de-bunked at source (in this case there had been a misrepresentation of Sarawak Report) and that the decision to pursue a private defamation case was ill-advised – politically, if not also legally.

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