Saturday, 30 September 2023

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Tan Kin Lian’s stand against defamation suit: A personal account and call for legal reform

By Tan Kin Lian

I have a personal experience of being threatened with a defamation suit. This occurred about 15 years ago and involved a land banking company. I had republished in my blog an article that appeared in a British newspaper which described the activities of the company in cheating the investors in Singapore.

The lawyer acting for that company made several demands that were excessive and unreasonable. I dragged on the matter over several months. The company finally stopped pursuing the matter.

The directors of that land banking company were later charged and convicted by the court for cheating several hundreds of investors. The allegations turned out to be true.

Over the years I have seen how rich and powerful people who can afford to engage expensive lawyers used this outdated and unjust law to bully their opponents and ordinary people. I find it unjust and deplorable.

I consider it the duty of the law minister to update the law on defamation to make the process fairer for ordinary people who do not want to spend a fortune or are not able to afford the expensive lawyers to defend themselves against unjust defamation suits.

This has not happened. I deplore the current state of affairs.

In the current case where two ministers threatened to sue Lee Hsien Yang for defamation over his post on the Ridout bungalows, my sympathies are with Hsien Yang. I opine that the alleged defamation is far fetched and unjust.

This was first published by Tan Kin Lian on his Facebook page.

Tan Kin Lian is a Singaporean business executive and political figure. He served as the CEO of NTUC Income for three decades and notably ran as a Presidential candidate in Singapore’s 2011 elections.

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