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Singapore Leader Seeks Libel Damages From American Educator

March 25, 1996

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has revived a libel suit against an American educator to seek damages for a 1994 article that Lee says alleged corruption in Singapore.

Lee and two other Singapore leaders also said Monday that they have donated the entire $675,000 they won from the International Herald Tribune in an earlier defamation case to charities and educational organizations.

The High Court said the case against Christopher Lingle, a former Singapore University lecturer, will be heard Thursday because Lee’s lawyers had requested that the court assess damages.

Lingle’s article was printed in October 1994 by the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, which is jointly owned by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Herald Tribune earlier agreed to pay $210,000 to Lee for damages.

While accepting the money, Lee reserved the right to sue Lingle, who returned to the United States after police here began investigating him over the article.

Since the issue of defamation has been settled, the High Court judge will only be required to assess any damages due to Lee, said a lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Lingle, a native of Atlanta, and the Herald Tribune were separately fined by the Singapore High Court because the article said judiciaries in some Asian countries were compliant and misused by governments.

Lee believed Lingle was referring to Singapore, which prides itself on an honest government and judiciary. Such a reputation has largely been built around the efforts of Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

He stepped down to take the post of senior minister, and still wields considerable influence over the government.

In an earlier defamation case, the High Court last year ordered the Herald Tribune to pay $675,000 to Lee, his son Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for publishing an Aug. 2, 1994 article that alleged nepotism in Singapore politics.

In a statement Monday, the prime minister’s office said the three leaders had donated the entire amount to charity, a move that is in line with Lee’s style of giving away all damages from the defamation suits he has won against political detractors and the foreign press.

Update hourly