Friday 17 February 2012

MP Foo Mee Har: Online attacks are false and baseless

She dismisses Net talk about her personal life, vows action if it persists
By Tessa Wong & Cai Haoxiang, The Straits Times, 16 Feb 2012

MEMBER of Parliament Foo Mee Har yesterday dismissed online talk about her personal life as 'false and baseless'.

The West Coast GRC MP also said she would take steps to protect her rights should the personal attacks and rumours persist.

However, she would not be taking any further action against blogger Alex Au as he 'has already promptly removed his posting which made reference to me', she told The Straits Times.

Ms Foo was asked whether she would take action against Mr Au or any other netizens, following a legal move taken against Mr Au by Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

On Tuesday, Mr Shanmugam's lawyers wrote to Mr Au, saying a comment Mr Au made on his blog was defamatory. They asked that the comment be removed and their letter published on Mr Au's blog. Mr Au did so on Tuesday night.

Mr Au's blog comments referred to allegations on the Net about the personal lives of Ms Foo and Mr Shanmugam.

These allegations, said the lawyers in their letter, were put up primarily by a person who calls himself Scroobal on the Internet and whom the lawyers have not been able to trace.

An Internet search found that Scroobal made several postings on the Sammyboy online forum between March and April last year about Ms Foo, alleging certain things about her private life.

He, or she, made similar postings about Mr Shanmugam on the same forum, once in late 2010 and again on Sunday.

When contacted, Ms Foo issued a statement that she also posted to her Facebook account yesterday.

She said, among other things: 'I do wish to say that the personal attacks and rumours that were made against me are false and baseless. I think it is important for me to put this on record so that people will know they are untrue.

'We need to inculcate a culture of responsibility of what we say. I would take steps to protect my rights if it becomes necessary to do so.'

The legal action by Mr Shanmugam has drawn both support and criticism.

Some netizens hit out at him for being heavy-handed, saying his move would curb free speech on the Internet. Some also noted that it drew more attention to the online allegations.

Others, however, applauded his action, saying he has the right to defend his reputation.

Lawyer Chia Boon Teck said Mr Shanmugam's action showed the importance of getting one's facts right.

'If anybody wants to talk publicly about somebody else, especially a public personality, then you better be careful... If what you are hinting at is based on rumours and gossip, then you are exposing yourself to legal suits,' he said.

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