Thursday, May 12, 2005

AcidFlask saga continues in Today 

Today has a follow-up report on the AcidFlask affair entitled “Where does freedom end for bloggers and online journalists?”. The newspaper’s view: “While one is physically circulated and the latter only exists online, the writers of both are equally susceptible to being sued for defamation.”

The newspaper also had the following statement: “The incident ended on Monday after graduate student Chen Jiahao, 23, apologised unreservedly for his defamatory remarks, retracted his statements and promised never to repeat them.”

Well, A*STAR’s threat of a lawsuit ended on Monday, but as far as the Singapore blogosphere is concerned, the “incident” has hardly ended. See, for example, the posts by Lzydata and mr brown. I’m sure more are in the works.

I also noted that the newspaper quoted mr brown, Mr Miyagi and Xiaxue, the three celebrity bloggers. A blogger it probably should have interviewed on this issue but didn’t is Gilbert Koh, a practising lawyer who has blogged on precisely this issue. Unfortunately, Koh is apparently not famous enough, or maybe not accessible enough.

In any case, in his post, mr brown pointed out that his views had not been presented fully — always a hazard when you speak to the press. Just as well that he has a blog with which to set the matter straight.

One last comment. By making statements such as “While opposing views are welcome, bloggers must be careful not to make scurrilous comments or baseless accusations that could have legal implications”, the article could easily be interpreted to mean that AcidFlask did indeed make “defamatory, serious and untrue” comments.

Since the matter has been “closed” without being brought to court and the specific offending comments revealed, the rest of us don’t really know if that is true, which makes the insinuation — even if unintended — rather unfair to AcidFlask, not to mention somewhat ironic.


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