Singapore – On November 7, Singaporean Leong Sze Hian shared an article on his profile unaware that the content was inaccurate and libelous.
The article that Mr. Leong shared was about the prime minister of the country being the next target for investigation under the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Apparently, an anonymous blogger who is said to be based in Australia claimed that the editor of Sarawak Report had told journalists of this recent news regarding the prime minister’s connection to 1MDB. However, once SR got hold of such news, the publication immediately revoked such claims and published an update explaining that the article is erroneous and misleading. No such interview or exchange in information regarding the subject matter was ever made.
Besides a firm renunciation made by Sarawak Report, Mr. Leong also received an email from the Media Development Agency of Singapore warning him that his post is a defamatory act towards the country’s leader.
Sarawak Report interviewed Mr. Leong a few days ago and the latter was quick to apologize for his actions and deleted the post from his profile. But the damage has been done. Multiple third parties had already read, believed and shared the erroneous information.
Catching Mr. Leong unaware was a private civil suit for libel being filed against him by the legal team of the prime minister himself.
The extent for such actions by the government seems unnecessary given the fact that the victim has already publicly apologized as well as endured the admonishments of the public. Furthermore, the process of accusing someone of defamation is not as simple as posting misguided information. There are grounds which both parties must prove to be true or otherwise defend to be false before officially violating the law.
The responses of the citizens show support for Mr. Leong’s case and suspicion towards the decisions of the Prime Minister’s administration. Daniel Ong wrote quite a detailed analysis of the situation below.
Netizen Richard Woo was another who agrees with SR’s observation about a double blow being made towards Mr. Leong.
Others are wondering why the victim is the only one being reprimanded when there are multiple others who have done similar if not worse things.
Hari Kumar makes an important point regarding the use of fear to instigate control in a country.
Meanwhile, Cindy Soh remembers to remind everyone to “think before you click”.
More on Singapore’s Defamation Laws: