“It is disconcerting to see that the Law Minister is repeating what the pro-PAP fanpages and trolls sites have been alleging for the past few weeks,” said TOC Chief Editor Terry Xu.
He said this in a post on TOC’s Facebook page today (27 September) which is a follow-up of his response to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugan’s comments about the motive of this site and one of its writers. Terry also shared this TOC post on his personal Facebook page, asking “so who is the author?”
Two days ago on 25 September, Straits Times reported on comments by Mr Shanmugan in which he said that TOC employs foreigners to write almost exclusively negative articles on social and political matters in Singapore.
Highlighting an article which is now the subject of a defamation suit brought by Prime Minister Hsien Loong against Terry, Mr Shanmugan said, “I’m not commenting on the legal merits of the article, since it is the subject of a lawsuit, only that a foreigner, staying in Malaysia, writes these things for a Singapore site to target a Singapore audience.”
He went on: “Who controls her? Who pays her? What is her purpose? All these are legitimate questions. Most readers would just assume this was by a genuine Singaporean contributor.”
Responding to those comments on 25 September, Terry stated that nothing goes on TOC without first being vetted by him, a Singaporean who has served his national service and is the person held responsible by the Ministry of Communication and Information as the registered person in charge of the site.
Expanding his statement in today’s Facebook post, Terry said, “We would like to state that the remarks by the Law Minister is totally uncalled for and probably made with malicious intent to discredit our publication.”
In his comments, Mr Shanmugan highlighted two articles written by TOC’s writer, Rubaashini Shunmuganathan, which he deemed problematic. The first was in relation to the Hong Kong protests.
Terry noted that the way in which ST reported on Mr Shanmugam’s comments on that article would lead one to “assume that the article was written to advocate for Singapore civil servants to follow the example of Hong Kong counterparts in protesting.”
“But if you refer to the actual article, it is a report on Singaporean activist and blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling who urged local civil servants to always speak up and stand for the people, rather than blindly follow the ruling party’s plans and policies,” Terry explained.
The second article, mentioned earlier, is the subject of his latest defamation suit.
In response to Mr Shanmugam’s question of who controls the author of the article, who pays her and what is her purpose, Terry simply said, “Me, me and she works for me”.
He then presented a screenshot of the article outline he sent to Rubaa next to a screenshot of the offending article to illustrate that the author merely wrote what was instructed of her by Terry, the Chief Editor of TOC.
He continued, “If you refer to the screenshot and the offending article as shown in the attached image, you can see that there is nothing additional inserted by Rubaa other than what is instructed of her to write. So whether she is a Malaysian, Singaporean, Indian or whatever. Does it matter?”
Terry reiterated, “There clearly seems to be a collaborated campaign to discredit TOC and it is disconcerting to see that the Law Minister is repeating what the pro-PAP fanpages and trolls sites have been alleging for the past few weeks.”