Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Thoughts on NMP Siew Kum Hong's Police Report

NMP Siew Kum Hong has come under attack recently for his role a 'legal advisor' for the Aware Old Guard at the last EOGM. More recently, a slew of accusations have perpetuated in online forums, insinuating that he had received foreign funding from a Swedish politician (who allegedly funds the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and is somehow the SDP's representative or "mole" in Parliament.

Siew has unequivocally denied these allegations and has filed a police report and requested the removal of said posts.

First, I would like to clearly state that i have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr Siew. This respect was formulated from his performance in parliament and his genuine interest in serving society and providing a voice for the disempowered.

Second, I do not, nor have ever, condoned nor encouraged irresponsible and inflammatory comments under the cloak of anonymity on the Net.

Having established these two points, I am slightly perturbed by the potential ripple effects that his legal actions may have. I hate the "slippery slope" argument but unfortunatley, things always have a way of escalating.

Although Alex at fully supports Siew's actions, he did note that "those who put themselves in the public eye should be more tolerant of public discussion of their activities and motives than truly private citizens." This is just something I hope Mr Siew and other public figures will keep in mind.

I have to date refrained from taking any legal action in response to the lies and falsehoods that have been levelled at me. But this latest attack goes beyond anything that a reasonable person could possibly perceive as being a valid or legitimate exercise of the right to free speech, and I certainly will not tolerate the latest rounds of character assassination from cowards hiding behind the perceived anonymity of he Internet. -- Siew Kum Hong
Although I am sympathetic to Mr Siew - no one should be subject to the concerted attacks on his person - I do have doubts over a move to track down anonymous netters when and no action was taken against the real life agents of the former Aware New Guard when they operate in the light of day and accuse him of abusing his position as NMP to further a Gay-agenda.

Obviously both are lies and as Alex has noted, the burden of proof (in libel law) lies on the person making the allegation.

While we are on the subject of libel, there are some cases to bear in mind:

1) The Lee's defamation suit against the publisher and editor of FEER

2)The use of defamtion against CSJ

3) Libel suit against Gopalan Nair

Obviously these cases are different from Siew's curretn predicament, but they serve as reminders that what is deemed fair comment is often skewed by those with the power and money to sue.

When the little guy has to watch every single word he uses in fear of being accused of at best innuendo, and at worst libel, the only form in which free speech can take place is ironically in the shape of anonymity.

Also read:

No comments: