This is the second post on this blog dedicated to Wesley LOL, because we always seem to be facing the same
shit challenges in our careers . Wesley is founder of Right Hooks Communications and he wrote this today:
New idea for a blogpost "Don't hire a PR agency if you're an arsehole" #lifeinpr
I got a bit worried for him because he seems to be a bit angry, so LOL today I am going to articulate three unfortunate scenarios involving lawsuits that bloggers in Singapore might sometimes find themselves in.
Blogging is sometimes a dangerous, dangerous activity–especially if you are influential. Libel/ defamation/ slander/ breach of contract, blablabla, you name it, someone in Singapore’s blogging history would have faced it.
In each scenario, I will also highlight the interest behind each lawsuit by each party. Because nobody ever sues for fun. There is always an underlying interest behind each lawsuit.
Scenario #1: If you are somewhat influential AND blog a narrative that runs against the Singaporean government’s.
Who got sued previously: Alex Au, Leslie Chew, Richard Wan, Roy Ngerng.
Who is sued currently: Amos Yee.
Exactly what did each blogger get sued for?
- Alex Au: Using “use innuendo, insinuation and imputation” in his blog posts against the Singaporean court.
- Leslie Chew: Drawing cartoons deemed insulting to the SG courts.
- Richard Wan: Defamatory statements were made towards Mdm Ho Ching.
- Roy Ngerng: Defamatory statements were made towards PM Lee Hsien Loong.
- Amos Yee: Wounding religious feelings in Singapore.
Analysis: Basically in Singapore, our freedom of expression ranks super low–like number 153 in the world, LOL. If you know that and you STILL blog shit without any fact-checking about the government/ Singapore court, you are asking for it, aren’t you?
Notice I didn’t say you “deserve it”, but anyone charged with contempt of court or defamation in Singapore certainly did ask for it. With the subjudice bill being passed recently, the boundaries of freedom of expression in Singapore is going to get narrower.
Take for instance Roy Ngerng. I met him in Norway and we had coffee. I think he is not a bad person, and I do sincerely believe that he wants the best for Singaporeans.
(Nice picture of Roy! Source)
It is my personal opinion that he probably listened to the advice of the wrong mentors and mingled with an extremely negative crowd. I told him to distance himself from Han Hui Hui for example, because I don’t think she’s credible at all. I also don’t personally agree with his economic posts, and I’m speaking from the perspective of someone trained in economics from NUS.
However, that being said, if I were PM Lee, I would have invited him for coffee and asked him to join PAP to make life better for all.
On hindsight however, Roy probably thought I was a PAP spy.
Solution: If you have some doubts about the government policies and want to verbalise it, watch your tone in your blog posts. Related to defamation or contempt of court, you can be charged for innuendos, connotations, insinuation and imputations, whether intended or not.
I would suggest adopting a neutral tone and language, “seeking clarifications” instead of jumping to conclusions and accusations. Don’t use vulgarities and don’t fall into name-calling. Not classy at all, and you certainly open yourself to risks of getting sued.
Also, as much as possible, frame it as “your opinion”. Use clear and unambiguous language that “I might be wrong, but it is my opinion that blablabla“. Use terms like “might”, “could it be that” etc.
In addition, posts are not defamatory if they involve facts that are verifiable. This means that anyone can verify the facts easily– “This VIP made 7 calls in that day” (7 calls can be counted and documented), “this VIP spent $x in this high-end shop” (this can also be verified, but you probably need a black and white evidence beforehand), etc.
The problem with defamation lawsuits are that usually facts cannot be verified, because the person committing the crime would withhold information that is considered non-favorable to himself/ herself. So you are exposing yourself to risk if a defamation lawsuit is to be filed against you, because the burden is on you to prove without doubt that those “facts” are true.
Anyway, any blog post related to SG politics written by a mildly articulate individual would probably have high viewership in Singapore. So if you write in a sincere, “seeking clarifications” tone, you’d probably have an answer at the comments section. 😛
Scenerio #2: If you are perceived to have breached a blogging contract with your talent company/ When you are perceived to have made defamatory comments against a company.
(Pretty Image of Qiuqiu! Source)
Ongoing case: Qiuqiu Vs Nuffnang/ Netcentric.
Context: Qiuqiu was perceived to have breached her contract when she accepted “outside work”. Nuffnang obviously wasn’t happy with this, because the profitability of any company depends on how well they control their talents.
They are also going to IPO soon, so the act of suing can be seen as a method to warn the rest of their talents/ bloggers not to breach contracts (especially contracts with the exclusivity clause), so that investors can be assured of zero leakage of profits.
I think Qiuqiu’s lawyers will argue either that the contract is unreasonable (like what DBSK did in their case versus SM entertainment), or that the interpretation of the exclusivity clause in the contract she signed is too narrow.
Anyway, this is an ongoing case, so let’s see.
Solution: Before signing any long-term blogging contract, consult a lawyer friend. Aiyah I have said it so many times–no blogger should do their own thing without a lawyer friend. If you are an aspiring popular blogger, I suggest you make as many lawyer friends as possible, ok?
Take note that law is always country-specific. So if you are a popular blogger who intends to move to another country, please make lawyer friends of the other country too. 🙂
Nonetheless I don’t think this is good publicity for either party at all, and I personally do like and support Qiuqiu, so I think Nuffnang/ Netcentric is probably going to face really averse consequences in the court of public opinion.
This is because there are always two courts in life: Firstly, the court of law, and secondly the court of public opinion.
I’d previously written also about the possibilities of bloggers being sued by companies due to perception of defamation.
Scenerio 3: Blogger Vs Blogger.
(Pretty image of Xiaxue! Source)
Context: I think these cases are quite silly, so maybe you can just click the above links? Xiaxue chose to file a PO against the troll page SMRT (feedback) because she was really freaked out of getting stalked and harrassed.
As for Grace Tan Vs Xiaxue, I think the dispute arises out of ego/pride. In the first place the dispute was quite petty…soo…..
Solution: Personally I think blog wars are great for readership. “Blog wars” are defined as bloggers expressing their dislike towards each other without a lawsuit being involved.
When a lawsuit is involved, however, usually it is either pride being taken too far, or seriously a blogger is being stalked or harassed.
So–know your ultimate goal, and know it well! Court cases are NOT cool. They are a waste of time and money.
Okay, I’d said it. Stay safe my friend, and don’t get sued for a blog post you write! Communicate with a purpose and good intentions, and I don’t think you’d ever go wrong. ^^