The Online Citizen (TOC) first heard of the possible defamation suit launch against the Publisher and authors for the book, " “The Phantom of Oxley Castle” on Sunday through a third party who had spoken to Mr Edmund Wee. A phone call was made to Mr Wee on Sunday to verify the story. We asked if the publisher had received a letter from the Prime Minister Office or Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
His reply to TOC was that nothing has received yet, but told to expect on Monday. This is the original source for the post made on Sunday evening.
After the Facebook post was made, another call was made to Mr Wee to verify certain queries raised, Mr Wee corrected that it was not explicitly mentioned that there was a letter but to expect something on Monday.
Straits Times gave a call to the editor of TOC, Terry Xu, saying that Mr Wee had informed TOC that the story is untrue and had requested the story to be taken down. Xu replied that there had not been any request from Mr Wee to take down the post.
After the call from ST, Mr Wee was contacted again to check if there was such a request to TOC. In that call, Mr Wee noted there was no official notification to the publisher that a legal suit is pending. As Mr Wee is not in the position to inform us further about the unofficial notification, it was highlighted to TOC that the book launch on Saturday (18 Nov) that was to be held at the Art House had been cancelled and asked TOC to check with the venue management.
In fact, Mr Wee also shared on his Facebook page of TOC's posting.
According to ST's article, Mr Wee said The Arts House had informed him on the phone over the weekend that they "did not want the book launch (to take place) at their premises". He added that The Arts House gave him a reason for the cancellation, but he declined to disclose the reason. The book's sale will go ahead as planned.
However, an Arts House spokesman said that the final decision to cancel or postpone the event was made by Epigram Books.
According to The Independent.SG, Wai Mun – a representative from Epigram Books was quoted saying:
“What we saw from TOC surprised us and it’s entirely not true. We’ve never received anything described like that.
“The reason why the launch is postponed is because we have another book being launched this Saturday and it’s planned ahead of launch of Oxley Castle. Due to the hype received, we decided not to launch Oxley Castle to overshadow the other book.”
Subsequently, at around 4pm on 13 November, Epigram wrote in a press statement,
Epigram Books has not received any letter of any kind from PMO or any individuals. Legal advice with Peter Low & Choo LLC has been taken regarding the publishing of the book.
The 18 November 2017 book launch of “The Phantom of Oxley Castle”, has been cancelled and postponed till further notice.
There has been a misunderstanding regarding what Edmund Wee had shared with The Straits Times about the cancellation of the book launch. The decision to cancel the book launch was initiated by Epigram Books.
“While the original intent was to do a dual book launch, we have decided that it will be better to focus on doing a one book launch which is Peh Shing Huei’s ‘Dream Island: The Mad Mad World of Philip Yeo’ which has a charity component,” says Edmund Wee, CEO and publisher of Epigram Books.
We will continue to take orders but the delivery of the books will be confirmed at a later date. A limited stock of pre-orders are available online now.
“The Phantom of Oxley Castle” is a children’s picture book about a fairy tale of two princes and a princess living in Oxley Castle with their pesky butler OB Markus. One night, the children hear a strange ghostly noise coming from the dungeon and decide to investigate.
TOC apologises unreservedly to Mr Lee Hsien Loong for stating that he intended to sue the publishers and authors of the book for defamation.
However, we stand by the fact that we were informed by the Publishers of possible legal action that would come their way today. Our information and source were deemed accurate and credible at the material time. The fact that the Publisher shared our original post on Facebook serves as evidence. We have and will produce further evidence if the need to do so arises.
Declaration - TOC did not receive any financial gain from the publication of the Facebook post nor any monetary rewards or in kind from Epigram Books for the posting of the story.