Singapore’s prime minister testified in court Tuesday at the start of his defamation suit against a blogger who shared an article on Facebook linking the leader to a corruption scandal.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong accuses Leong Sze Hian of spreading false claims about him over the article relating to the money-laundering scandal at state fund 1MDB in neighbouring Malaysia.
Critics say the case is the latest example of the tightly-regulated city-state’s government being heavy-handed and seeking to silence dissent online.
Singapore’s leaders have frequently turned to the courts to take on critics, ranging from political opponents to foreign media outlets, and insist such action is necessary to protect their reputations.
Taking the stand at the start of the trial, Lee accused Leong of making “malicious and baseless” allegations, which had undermined the government’s “integrity and honesty”.
The article that Leong shared, originally published in a Malaysian news portal, alleged that Lee was the target of an investigation in Malaysia over the 1MDB state fund.