Monday 10 December 2012

Vincent Wijeysingha, 2 sites apologise to ex-MP Vasoo over offending article

The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2012

Two socio-political websites have apologised for publishing an article containing allegations made by opposition politician Vincent Wijeysingha about former MP S. Vasoo, following a letter of demand from the MP's lawyer.

Over the weekend, TR Emeritus (TRE) and The Online Citizen (TOC) admitted that the allegation was false and apologised to Dr Vasoo.

TRE removed the offending words that referred to the former People's Action Party MP, while TOC took the article offline.

Their moves came right after Mr Wijeysingha himself apologised for the allegations he had made in a Facebook posting on Dec 2.

In the commentary on the recent bus drivers' strike, the Singapore Democratic Party treasurer had alleged that Dr Vasoo had "fabricated evidence" to deprive opposition politician Chee Soon Juan of his living. On Friday, Mr Wijeysingha apologised to Dr Vasoo and removed the allegation from the article.

Asked about the matter yesterday at a forum, he said he had nothing more to add.

Both TRE and TOC, however, said they had received a letter of demand from Dr Vasoo's lawyer Davinder Singh at about 6pm on Friday.

The letter sent to TOC's editors, dated the same day, was posted online by the website.

It said Mr Wijeysingha's allegations were "false and baseless" and noted that Dr Vasoo had successfully obtained a judgment against Dr Chee for making similar allegations in 1993. Dr Vasoo was then Dr Chee's boss at the National University of Singapore when Dr Chee, a neuropsychology lecturer, was sacked over the use of research funds.

The letter said Mr Wijeysingha's words were "published maliciously and recklessly" and constituted a grave libel against Dr Vasoo. "They disparage our client, and have impugned his character, credit and integrity."

It demanded that the website remove the offending words and related comments and publish an apology within four days.

Dr Vasoo did not ask for any damages or costs.

But the letter warned that he would start proceedings against the website if it did not comply with the demands.

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