Blogger(s) Dragged to Court
Bloggers are now being sued by members of the public for defamation. Not unusual overseas, but rather unusual still in Singapore. In 2009 in the US where freedom of speech has almost no bounds we thought, bloggers can be sued even if they are telling the truth apparently. Bloggers are also not protected like journalists according to a New Jersey court and that bloggers’ rants cannot be automatically synonymous to investigative journalism. Also, bloggers cannot typically claim underdog status and because of the potential, regardless of actual, reach of the blog, bloggers have to be ready to get whenever they give.
In Singapore, news of blogger Jayne Goh has again come up. Last year, the screws started turning for that landmark case. A former teacher refuted Jayne’s claims that the teacher was sacked for taking bribes. Incidentally, Jayne has upset a few people along the way in her blogging and attracted much derision for her Association of Bloggers stunt in early 2009.
While Malaysia has taken one step further where the government has sued bloggers, Singapore’s political incumbents have not bullied bloggers by suing them yet. Labeled bloggers’ writings as not reaching the journalistic standards of the media, drew that blogs cannot outperform the traditional media‘s reach and depth, and asserting that very few bloggers are credible even, but no lawsuits. Lawsuits are so far reserved for selected politicians and not buzzing swarming bloggers. Nevertheless, post-2006 light touch or lighter touch or not, with the election coming and as the PAP gets more insecure, this armistice might suddenly end and tabloid bloggers Temasek Review and Joseph Ong would be fair game for lawsuits particularly since their welcomed absence might be applauded by many.
Nov 16, 2010
Blogger faces libel suit
Case will highlight online claims against ex-teacher and raise issue of how readers may be expected to interpret them
A FORMER teacher and a blogger are headed for a showdown in the courts in a defamation case.
When the teacher, Mrs Janet Wong, came across a blog by Madam Jayne Goh alleging that she took bribes from parents and guardians in return for places for their children in her school, she sued the blogger for defamation. Madam Goh also alleged that Mrs Wong was sacked for what she did.
Mrs Wong had sought a summary judgment from the High Court, which would have granted her a victory without the case going to trial, but Justice Steven Chong saw justification for a trial, which would blow open the web of online allegations and how ‘reasonable readers’ could be expected to have interpreted them.
This is believed to be the first case of alleged defamation by a blogger that will go to trial.
A trial means witnesses will be examined, evidence taken and submissions made; a summary judgment would have kept the matter in the judge’s chambers, where lawyers fight the case based on claims made and documents admitted.
Mrs Wong, in her 50s and a retiree, says Madam Goh, 43, defamed her by alleging she had demanded $3,000 for each student placed in the secondary school, which was not named in court papers.