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TOC Latest: TR accedes to Temasek Holdings’ demand

Netizens see broader political significance in TH’s demand

Citing a desire not to waste the Singaporean tax payers’ money in legal wrangling, website Temasek Review (TR) has complied with Sovereign Wealth Fund Temasek Holdings’ (TH) demand that it change its’ name.

In the statement, one of TR’s editors who uses the pseudonym “Amanda Tan”, stood by what “she” felt were the legal strengths of their case. It noted that the website had started using the name “The Temasek Review” since July 2009, whereas TH had only registered the same name for trademark rights in November 2009.

Despite citing these strengths, TR claimed that it was not keen to go to court to defend its’ case as “to contest the case even in a fair court in the USA will expose the identity of our editorial team which we are not prepared to do so for the time being”.

The editorial team of TR claims to be completely based overseas, under the leadership of a Panama based personality using the pseudonym“Molina Han”.

TR also said that the name change was an act of respect for Singaporeans. It explained: “By “backing off”, we are actually respecting the rights of Singaporeans and not Temasek Holdings which incidentally also belongs to Singaporeans although the ruling party will deny otherwise.”

TR was also careful to qualify that the move was not because of what it called “no balls and guts”

Temasek Holdings’ move sparks speculation

In Temasek’s letter to the press earlier on Saturday, Mr Goh Yong Siang (Head, Strategic Relations) stated that the term “Temasek Review” had been used to title TH’s performance reviews since 2004.

The move by Singapore's Sovereign Wealth Fund has sparked speculation of a non-financial variety.

Netizens of popular local political discussion platform Sammyboy forum saw a broader political significance to the move by TH. One commentator noted that: “They are just trying to flush out TR. Its (Temasek Holdings) an arm of the Govt.” Another commentator on The Online Citizen was more direct, claiming “this reeks of an orchestrated political gesture by Temasek Holdings in the run-up to the elections”.

Indeed, the letter by Mr Goh contained statements that one would be unlikely to find in letters by a purely commercial entity:

“Temasek has no issue with the desire to foster and facilitate serious debate and discourse and to provide news of socio-political affairs of Singapore. That is the right of every Singaporean.”

TH’s name change request was made through the press earlier on the same day (Saturday, 16 October) in the form of a publicly available letter to Dr Joseph Ong, the man who claims to be Temasek Review’s founder.  A New Paper report on 10 October stated that Dr Ong admitted to police to being the person behind the Temasek Review and its’ predecessor, The Wayang Party.

The current editors of TR have attempted to dissociate themselves from Dr Ong in their response to TH by claiming that he “is not a member of our editorial team past or present” and that “He is not in a position to receive any notices or communication on our behalf”.

(photo credit: The New Paper)