9 May 2005

Singapore Blogger 'Apologised Unreservedly' To A*Star

By Jackson Sawatan of Bernama.com

SINGAPORE, May 9 (Bernama) -- A Singapore student has "unreservedly apologised" to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research of Singapore (A*Star) for a number of statements he posted on his blog against the agency.

The 23-year-old Chen Jiahao, currently studying in the United States, said he admitted and acknowledged "that these statements are false and completely without any foundation".

The apology came after A*Star demanded that he apologised unreservedly for publishing in his "Caustic Soda" blog what the agency said as defamatory accusations.

A check on the blog today showed that what remained on his blog was his apology to the agency.

It says: "I recognize and accept that a number of statements that I made on my on-line journal "Caustic Soda", in particular the blog post of 3 March 2005, were defamatory of A*STAR, its Chairman, Philip Yeo and its executive officers".

"I admit and acknowledge that these statements are false and completely without any foundation. I unreservedly apologize to A*STAR, its Chairman Mr. Philip Yeo, and its executive officers for the distress and embarrassment caused to them by these statements," he wrote.

Chen had taken the blog off-line on April 26 and published an apology but A*Star said it wanted the student to apologise unreservedly, retract what he had previously said in his blogs and promise not to do it again.

A*Star had given Chen until yesterday to apologise for what the agency said as defamatory accusations against it.

A blog, short for web log, is an online journal where a blogger published his thoughts on a periodical basis.

Such websites, which would typically be accessible to any Internet user, have become popular for the internet community to express their thoughts online.


And a rather interesting follow up from Reuters...By Geert De Clercq.

On Sunday he posted the new apology on his "Caustic Soda" blog, saying "I unreservedly apologise to A*STAR, its Chairman Mr. Philip Yeo, and its executive officers for the distress and embarrassment caused to them."

"They sent me an e-mail with these words," Chen told Reuters on Monday by telephone from the United States, where he studies chemical physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A*STAR's Yeo said in a statement on Monday he accepted Chen's apology and considered the matter closed. "We wish him well. My invitation to Mr. Chen to meet for tea in the fall still remains," Yeo said.

Paris-based Reporters without Borders said the case highlighted the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in the organisation's worldwide press freedom index.

"Chen criticised some of A*Star's policies but there was nothing defamatory in what he wrote," Julien Pain, head of Reporters without Borders' Internet freedom desk, told Reuters.

Entire Reuters article available here.


Anonymous said...

I applaud AcidFlask for apologising and hopefully getting A*Star off his back.

There is little point entering a battle when there is no chance that you might actually win.

The Legal Janitor said...

what makes you think there was no chance?

Are you privy to all the relevant information?

Anonymous said...

When was the last time an MP or someone associated with them lost libel case?

Anonymous said...

What else should I be
All apologies
What else should I say
Everyone is gay
What else could I write
I don't have the right
What else should I be
All apologies
- Cobain

Anonymous said...

If only he had opened a PayPal account and solicit for a public fund to fight against tyranny and despotism. I will be the first to contribute!

An Anonymous Coward,

clyde said...

I think this is an excellent example of the lack of freedom of speech in Singapore. That no Singaporean is really free to voice an opinion, even on the internet! Although I didnt really catch on to this story (until I read this blog!), my greatest regret is that Jiahoa didnt have the balls to stand up for himself. I don't know what his gripe was with A*Star, although they do seem like a bunch of corporate assholes.. but that's just my opinion (I bet the singapore govt is tracking down my IP right now..haha). Anyhow, he would have been standing up for a lot more people than just himself if he had chosen to do so. But I guess if he's planning to return to Singapore, or work for A*Star even, then I guess his balls ARE anchored to the ground.

Am I allowed to say *balls* on this blog btw?

lee hsien tau said...

I should think Jiahao didn't pack his balls with him when he left. However, you can't blame him. My brother? said to me once in an obvious poke: 'Heros die young.' So he meant to say that I'd die young. So what the fuck. I'm more tee-kee than JBJ.

You bet the Singapore garhmen do track you down. If you use a web-spider and duplicate this blog and do a word-search for 'MaHA' case sensitive if you like (singabloodypore.blogspot.com/police-harassment-at-non-violence-book.html) to save you all the hassle, you'd find that I was using anonymous to comment.

Soon after, I got a call from a 'head-hunter' who was obviously too furtive to be a head-hunter. He referred to my 'internet activities' and asked after some tests I took in Financial Advisory and whether I passed my CPA. These are just toiletpapers unless you can get a job with it. I told him as much, and he hung up just as furtive. I'd bet my last dollar the call was from MaHA.

In a cabinet of collective think, with two deputy prime ministers and three prime ministers, it is no longer appropriate to use 'Ministry of'. It's where you're 'AT' that differentiates.

There is one good reason why Steven shouldn't be deleting commentary. The blog can be used as some kind of message board - for good or for worse - for whatever the reason.

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