Singapore—Two-time SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong has taken his battle against sports officials in Singapore one step further with a writ of defamation issued by Mr Soh’s layers against Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied, the executive director of Singapore Athletics (SA).
The quarrel between Mr Soh and two sports organisations in Singapore, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and Singapore Athletics, began early in August, when it was made public that the marathoner was excluded from the lineup of athletes slated to compete in this year’s SEA Games in Manila, Philippines, later this year.
Mr Soh had won the marathon back-to-back in the last two SEA Games and is a nationally recognised athlete.
He has questioned his exclusion from the games, which was due to having “displayed conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC (Singapore National Olympic Council) expects of and holds its athletes to.”
He also expressed his disappointment with Singapore Athletics, which did not defend him nor contest the SNOC’s decision. Later on, the runner took the battle to social media, and then found himself blocked from SA’s WhatsApp chats and social media pages.
Later, the argument progressed to legal letters between Mr Soh’s lawyers and the legal representatives of the SNOC.
In the latest round, Mr Soh’s lawyers issued a letter to Mr Malik on August 19, saying that he would sue the SA executive director for what he deemed to be defamatory comments from Mr Malik on August 17 on his Facebook page.
8 days ago (19 August 2019) my lawyers issued a Letter of Demand for Defamation to Malik Aljunied, an employee of Singapore National Olympic Council and Executive Director of Singapore Athletics, for the following Facebook post he put up: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2330747103667593&id=157864337622558
Malik was requested to do 3 things, namely:
- A signed written undertaking to not publish any more statements which are defamatory in nature.
- Make compensation for damages (to be agreed upon)
- Issue a public apology through The Straits Times for his actions.
Disappointingly, Malik did not comply with my solicitors’ demands. I have no choice but to stand by my words and file a Statement of Claim against Malik.”
In the post that the marathoner referred to, Mr Malik had posted a photo of himself holding two children, whom he hoped would one day run in the 400m hurdles event, and that they should be careful of the marathon bevies this could “end up messing up with your mind and heart.”
In a comment to his post, while he did not name anyone, Mr Malik wrote about “one particular runner” with a “messed up sense of log and reason beyond repair,” for whom he felt “really sorry.” And in a further quote he said “it seemed to have drained him of empathy, compassion, gratitude and the capability to love others…”
The letter sent from Clarence Lun, Mr Soh’s lawyer, said that Mr Malik could only be referring to Mr Soh in the Facebook post.
The SNOC told TODAY Online that it is not involved in the situation between Messrs Soh and Malik, saying, “The exchanges of letters between Soh Rui Yong and SNOC have been well-publicised by Soh Rui Yong, and (we) have nothing to do with the post made by Malik Aljunied in his personal capacity.”/ TISG