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NY Times pays damages to Singapore leaders

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[March 25, 2010]  SINGAPORE (AP) -- The New York Times Co. has apologized and agreed to pay Singapore's prime minister and his two predecessors some 160,000 Singapore dollars ($114,000) for a story that listed the city-state's leaders as an Asian political dynasty.

The Times, the editor of its global editions and the article's writer Philip Bowring agreed to pay SG$60,000 to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, SG$50,000 to his father Lee Kuan Yew and $50,000 to Goh Chok Tong, a lawyer for the Singaporean politicians said Thursday.

Lee Kuan Yew was prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and was replaced by Goh Chok Tong until 2004, when Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister. The leaders of the authoritarian city-state have sued journalists and political opponents several times over the years for alleged defamation. They have won lawsuits and damages against Bloomberg, the Economist and Dow Jones & Co.

Listing the Lees as an Asian political dynasty in a Feb. 15 article, "may have been understood by readers to infer that the younger Mr. Lee did not achieve his position through merit," the Times said in an apology published Wednesday. "We wish to state clearly that this inference was not intended."

The Times said that as part of a settlement with the three leaders for a 1994 article, Bowring had agreed that he would not say or imply that Lee Hsien Loong had attained his position through nepotism practiced by his father Lee Kuan Yew.

Because the Times agreed to apologize and pay the damages and costs, no suit was filed in court, lawyer Davinder Singh said.

The article appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the international edition of the Times.

[Associated Press; By ALEX KENNEDY]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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