Author of letter condemning MP Seah Kian Peng’s Facebook post, questioned for six hours over “criminal defamation”

“Willy Sum”, the author of an article titled “The take away from Seah Kian Ping’s [sic] Facebook post” published on TOC on 4 Sep was called in by the police for questioning over alleged “criminal defamation”.

Freelance journalist Kirsten Han, in her Facebook post on Monday (26 Nov), revealed that “Willy Sum” (not his real name) was interrogated twice on Monday, and it was “not clear” to her as to why the investigations were “taking so long”.

She added that 14 days after the post was published, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had ordered TOC to take down the allegedly offending article within six hours of receiving the order, citing that the article contains prohibited material, and that “it is objectionable on grounds of public interest.”

While TOC complied with the order on 18 Sept, IMDA, in turn. filed a police report on 4 Oct. Just six days ago, the police seized the electronic equipments of both “Willy Sum” and TOC editor-in-chief Terry Xu.

The article submitted by “Willy Sum” to TOC was a response to Marine Parade GRC’s Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng’s Facebook post on 1 Sep, the latter of which lambasted the meeting between several Singaporean civil activists, including Ms Han herself, and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In his Facebook post, Mr Seah had erroneously suggested that the Singapore Democratic Party was involved in the meeting, and that historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin was a member of the SDP: “This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?”

SDP responded to Mr Seah’s allegation by confirming that “Dr Thum and Ms Teo are not members of the SDP, thus do not speak for the party, or represent us in any way”, adding that they only came to know of Dr Thum’s meeting with Dr Mahathir “through the media”.

While SDP found Mr Seah’s allegation against the party “bewildering”, SDP believed that Mr Seah’s accusation was merely a tactic to divert Singaporeans’ attention from PAP’s controversies revolving around “ministers’ salaries, the HDB 99-year lease, and the rising cost of living”, and that the allegation was merely a “desperate” and “clumsy stunt” that will not work on the public.

In her blog post on 1 Sep, Ms Han wrote that “it’s also a little random to drag the Singapore Democratic Party into this, as Soh Lung hasn’t been a member of the party for quite some time”.

Interviewed for six hours

Lawyer and activist, Teo Soh Lung who was waiting at the police station posted at around 7.30pm that “Willy” was released from the interview and the whole interview took around 6 hours. In comparison, Xu was held by the police for 8 hours on Tuesday last week for his interview.

TOC understands no charge has been filed against “Willy” and no travel ban is in place. But he is being informed that investigations on him are not completed and may require him to return for further questioning.