Roy Ngerng’s termination: “Sub judice” and “due process”?

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s (TTSH) statement on the termination of Roy Ngerng’s contract of employment.

It states that “In particular, they cannot defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public”.

Don’t you find these remarks rather puzzling? How did or could TTSH have come to the conclusion that (Roy Ngerng) has “defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public” – when the first court hearing of the defamation suit is scheduled to be in early July?

Isn’t it for the court to decide whether Roy had “defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public”, instead of TTSH?

I am a layman – but, could this be “sub judice”?

Is it the norm for TTSH, or for that matter any hospital public or private – to issue a press statement when it terminates an employee – apparently within minutes or hours of as I understand it after Roy Ngerng was informed of his termination?

For how many times in TTSH’s history – has it issued a press statement when it terminated an employee?

As I understand that Roy was just informed on the afternoon of 10 June of his termination – as a matter of natural justice – shouldn’t it be in the interest of fairness and due process for Roy to have been given the time for an opportunity to appear before a panel to defend the accusations against him – and in particular the “defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public”?

Would the Ministry of Manpower, TAFEP and the NTUC like to comment whether due process was carried out by TTSH?

In this regard, according to TAFEP’s Tripartite Guidelines On Fair Employment Practices – Dismissals and retrenchments – “An enquiry should be conducted to allow the employee to present his or her case before any decision is made with regard to dismissing the employee”.

And what a coincidence that the Ministry of Health (MOH) also issues a press statement within hours if not minutes, on Roy Ngerng’s termination by TTSH, which said that it supports TTSH’s decision to terminate Mr Ngerng’s contract, as his “actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with the values and standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees”

Is it the norm for the MOH to issue press statements when a public hospital terminates an employee?

For how many times in MOH’s history – has it issued a press statement when a public hospital terminated an employee?

Also, how did MOH know about Roy’s termination – such that they were able to issue a “supporting” press statement almost at the same time?

Was MOH notified by TTSH in advance? Do public hospitals notify MOH whenever they terminate a staff? How many times has this happened in the history of TTSH and MOH?

As to “Mr Ngerng’s conduct was incompatible with the values and standards we expect of our employees. While our staff are free to pursue their personal interests outside work, they must conduct themselves properly, honourably and with integrity” – is TTSH referring to Roy “was found to have misused his time and resources while at work to pursue “personal and non-job-related interests”” or ”defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public”?

If it is the latter – how can TTSH in a sense, impinch upon Roy’s “‘honour’ (ably) and with ‘integrity’” – when the court case has not even commenced its first hearing yet?

By the way, I understand that Roy’s father has received a letter informing him that his hawker stall in a market food centre is not clean enough. I wonder for how many years his father has been a hawker and how many of such letters has he ever received?

Addendum: ”An apology, under section 20, does not constitute admission of fault, and while it does not affect the right to assert, continue or enforce an action for defamation, an apology is not admissible as proof of fault or liability.” (see more)