|Native name 鄞义林|
|Name Roy Ngerng|
|Born 9 May 1981 (age 34) (1981-05-09) |
Occupation Carrot cake seller Sociopolitical blogger Social activist
Education National University of Singapore, Serangoon Junior College
Roy ngerng the cpf blogger turned rp candidate
Roy Ngerng Yi Ling (simplified Chinese: 鄞义林; traditional Chinese: 鄞義林; pinyin: Yín Yì Lín; born May 9, 1981) is a Singaporean activist and blogger.
- Roy ngerng the cpf blogger turned rp candidate
- Top x reasons to vote roy ngerng use your vote wisely
- Early life
- Career 2011 Present
- Political career
- Defamation Lawsuit Lee Hsien Loong v Roy Ngerng 2015
- Failed NMP application
- Amos Yee
- Hong Lim Park protests
Ngerng started his sociopolitical blog, The Heart Truths, in 2012. He was found guilty in October 2014 of defaming Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore in a blog post. Ngerng is also noted for his protests at Hong Lim Park campaigning against Singapore's Central Provident Fund. As a result of the events surrounding him, Ngerng was ranked by Yahoo Singapore as the top Singapore newsmaker of 2014.
Top x reasons to vote roy ngerng use your vote wisely
Ngerng's father is a chai tow kway seller while his mother is a retired factory worker. Ngerng lives with them and his younger sister in a four-room Housing Development Board flat in Sembawang. Ngerng also has an elder sister. Before 2000, the Ngerng family lived in a two-room flat near the now-defunct Hong Dao Primary School, which Ngerng had attended. Ngerng's family were unaware of his blogging activities until the events of May 2014.
Ngerng states that his interest in people and their interactions started in primary school when he witnessed instances of racism. At the age of 15, Ngerng revealed his homosexuality to friends, but described facing resultant discrimination. He went on to study in Serangoon Junior College, where he took art as an A-level subject and won an award for topping his level in geography and art in his first year. Ngerng majored in sociology in the National University of Singapore, where he participated in its community service club helping autistic or hyperactive children and people with mental disorders.
After graduation, Ngerng worked for six months with Autism Partnership, an organisation working with families with autistic children. Ngerng then joined the Health Promotion Board’s Communicable Diseases department for six years, working on campaigns and presenting at international conferences, and winning an Employee of the Year award for innovation in 2011. In 2012, he joined Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) as a contract patient coordinator, where he fronted a campaign to promoting the understanding of the lives of HIV-infected people.
On 10 June 2014, Ngerng was sacked from his job at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for "conduct incompatible with the values and standards expected of employees" and for misusing resources for personal pursuits. Ngerng described the sacking as "politically motivated". NGO Maruah expressed concern on the manner of punishment and the reasons for doing so. In the same month of June, a 71-year-old man, Loh Thiam Hock, was jailed for four weeks for vandalising public property in support of Ngerng,
In August 2015, Ngerng became part of the The Reform Party six-member team contesting Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency in the 2015 general election.
The People's Action Party team headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defeated the Reform Party 135,115 to 36,711 (78.63% to 21.37%) in the election.
Ngerng is gay, as stated in his personal blog, My Right To Love, in 2011. He has written on topics related to the LGBT community, such as relationship woes and AIDS.
Defamation Lawsuit: Lee Hsien Loong v Roy Ngerng (2015)
On 15 May 2014, Ngerng made a post entitled "Where Your CPF Money Is Going: Learning From The City Harvest Trial" on his blog the Heart Truths. Within the post, Ngerng created a chart which mapped the relationships between the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, the Central Provident Fund (CPF), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC). Ngerng claimed there was an "uncanny resemblance" between this chart and another chart by news agency Channel News Asia regarding the relationship among City Harvest Church leaders, who were being charged with misappropriating funds.
The CPF has been described as "a forced savings scheme" for Singaporeans with "monthly contributions into the fund" to be saved for retirement, or for expenses on "property, healthcare, and their children's education", while the GIC has been described to have "indirectly invested" funds from the CPF.
On 18 May, Prime Minister (PM) Lee responded through his lawyer Davinder Singh, who stated that the blog post alleged that Lee "is guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans to the CPF" and that the allegations were "false and baseless". It was demanded that Ngerng issue an apology and take down the blog post within three days, as well as pay damages and legal fees, failing which Ngerng could be sued for defamation.
On 19 May, Ngerng took down the offending blog post. He had yet to apologize and said that the offending article was a call for greater transparency on the CPF, the GIC and Temasek Holdings. Meanwhile, he posted another blog post entitled "Your CPF: The Complete Truth And Nothing But The Truth". Around this time, Singapore human rights non-governmental organization Maruah called for PM Lee to rebut the points made in Ngerng's blog post.
After an extension for the deadline for Ngerng's written response was granted, Ngerng apologized "unreservedly" on 23 May, admitting that his allegation was "false and completely without foundation". Ngerng also asked that he not pay for damages and legal fees, while requesting an "open dialogue" with PM Lee on the CPF. Ngerng's appeal to drop damages and costs was rejected.
On 26 May, Singh sent a letter to Ngerng, saying that four further blog posts by Ngerng and a 24 May YouTube video showed that Ngerng's apology was not "genuine". If Ngerng did not take down this material, aggravated damages would be claimed. Ngerng agreed to remove the additional posts and video.
On 27 May, Ngerng offered S$5,000 in damages "with each party to bear their own costs", which was rejected by Singh as "derisory". Meanwhile, Singh said that Ngerng had once again "misled" PM Lee and the public by not removing his YouTube video as agreed upon, rather, Singh claimed that the video was merely made private, and alleged Ngerng had sent two emails with links to the posts and video to "a far wider audience" including local and international media. In response, Ngerng's lawyer, M. Ravi, claimed no knowledge of the emails.
On 29 May 2014, Prime Minister Lee filed a defamation lawsuit against Ngerng. In response, Ngerng made an online plea for help in settling his legal fees through crowdfunding, leaving instructions on how to transfer money to his bank account. Within a week, Ngerng said that he had raised more than his targeted S$70,000. It was later reported that Ngerng had managed to raise more than S$110,000 from over a thousand contributions. While PM Lee did not address the case directly, he wrote on Facebook that "freedom of speech does not come free from the need to be responsible for what one says, either online or offline". Singaporean author Catherine Lim has criticized the lawsuit against Ngerng.
On 17 June, Ngerng's defense was filed in court by his lawyer, M Ravi, who stated that Ngerng had never intended to accuse Mr Lee of criminal misappropriation of CPF funds. In July 2014, PM Lee applied for summary judgment for the case. In a 4 August affidavit, Ngerng argued that his blog post had been misunderstood, and that he was merely asking for more transparency and accountability for CPF monies. Also in August, it was reported that Ngerng was working part-time at his father's carrot cake stall. At a 19 September closed hearing, PM Lee's lawyers asserted that Ngerng had "no defence" and asked for an injunction, while Ngerng's lawyer argued that the blog post was not defamatory if read in its entirety.
On 7 November 2014, the High Court of Singapore found Ngerng guilty of defamation with damages to be assessed, which was the first such ruling in Singapore over a purely online article. Judge Lee Seiu Kin ruled that there was "no triable defence" and "no doubt that it is defamatory to suggest that the plaintiff is guilty of criminal misappropriation". An injunction against Ngerng was granted, barring him from publishing future similar accusations regarding PM Lee and the CPF. Ngerng expressed disappointment at the verdict, but maintained that he would "still continue to speak up on the CPF and other issues that concern Singaporeans".
On 12 January 2015, the High Court ordered Ngerng to pay PM Lee $29,000 for costs of legal fees and related expenses; with damages yet to be settled. After missing the payment deadline twice, Ngerng paid on 6 February after a public spat with his lawyer, Ravi.
On 12 June 2015, Ngerng's application to be represented by Queen's Counsel in the damages hearing scheduled for 1 to 3 July 2015 was denied by the High Court of Singapore and he was ordered to pay costs of $6,000 to The Prime Minister's lawyers, Drew & Napier.
The damages hearing proceeded as scheduled from 1 to 3 July 2015 with Ngerng representing himself and PM Lee using the services of Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew & Napier. Citing a lack of funds, Ngerng represented himself after dismissing his third lawyer in this case - George Hwang of George Hwang LLC. Ngerng stated that Hwang had been "excellent". Ngerng's first lawyer in the case, M Ravi, was suspended by the Law Society of Singapore for mental health reasons
The hearing prompted much comment from international press freedom advocacy groups and a legal opinion in favour of minimal damages against defendant from the International Commission of Jurists: "It is humbly submitted that a decision awarding a disproportionately high amount of damages to the plaintiff in this case would cast a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Singapore". Presiding Chief Justice Lee Seiu Kin requested both parties to make written submissions on their respective cases by 31 August 2015. No date was given for his decision.
On 17 December 2015 the court led by Lee Seiu Kin handed down a judgement ordering Ngerng to pay S$100,000 in general damages and S$50,000 in aggravated damages. Ngerng proposed to pay the S$150,000 in instalments which was granted by the Prime Minister on the condition that Ngerng paid the S$30,000 in hearing costs immediately i.e. by 16 March 2016. Ngerng is expected to repay $100 a month from 1 April 2016 onwards over five years until 1 April 2021 when instalments are increased to S$1,000 until the full sum has been paid by the year 2033. Prime Minister also rejected Ngerng's request to reimburse part of the damages i.e. S$36,000.
Failed NMP application
On 21 May 2014, Ngerng applied to be a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), with the proposal being submitted by fellow blogger Han Hui Hui. Ngerng was ultimately not selected as an NMP in August 2014.
After Amos Yee was introduced to Ngerng's blog by Singapore Democratic Party members, Yee was convinced by Ngerng's arguments. This was one of the inspiring factors behind Yee publishing a controversial video in 2015 criticizing the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity. Yee said that he used evidence from Ngerng's blog posts in the 2015 video.
Hong Lim Park protests
Ngerng was a speaker at the Return Our CPF protest organised by blogger Han Hui Hui at Hong Lim Park on 7 June; in his speech, he demanded transparency and accountability for CPF monies. Organizers claimed a turnout of 6,000, while international news agencies reported about 2,000. Ngerng also spoke at the second (which drew "hundreds") and third Return Our CPF protests at the same venue on 12 July and 23 August.
A controversial incident occurred on 27 September 2014 when another Return Our CPF protest, again organized by Han Hui Hui, took place at Hong Lim Park at the same time as the YMCA Proms @ the Park event, a charity carnival attended by the elderly and disabled, featuring performances by children. Agence France-Presse described Ngerng and Han as having "led a march ... despite having only a permit to stage a rally at a fixed spot". The Straits Times described that Han had led the protesting group in "marching around the park" together with Ngerng, with the group "heckling special needs children and confronting" Minister of State Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, who attended the YMCA event. A few days later, Teo confirmed that Ngerng had issued an apology for the disruption; Teo himself apologized due to his "presence" causing the protesters to "go after" him.
In a joint statement, the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that "each event was allocated a lawn" and that Han did not heed their advice "to speak at the allocated space". They described that "Han's group encroached into the YMCA event area, holding placards and shouting slogans, disrupted performances and frightened participants, including special needs children who were performing at the charity event". NParks and SPF also said that final approval to hold the event was given to YMCA on 9 September, while Han's application for the protest was received and approved on 22 September. The YMCA stated that NParks on 11 April 2014 had acknowledged their intent to hold the carnival.
On 27 October 2014, in relation to the YMCA event disruption, Ngerng, Han, and four others were charged for public nuisance, which can incur a maximum fine of $1,000; Ngerng and Han were also charged for organising a demonstration without approval, which can incur a maximum fine of $5,000. In October 2015, Ngerng plead guilty to charges of public nuisance and organising a demonstration without approval. His lawyer said he committed the offence because of ignorance. Ngerng was fined $1900.