NTUC Foodfare sues local website for defamation after it refuses to retract 2 hawker articles
'TISG will hold the line in championing the rights of our hawkers, workers and downtrodden.'
The controversy over two hawker-related articles published by local website The Independent Singapore (TISG) will not die down any time soon.
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, it emerged that NTUC Foodfare, the operator of Changi Airport Terminal 4’s Food Emporium food court, is suing TISG for defamation as a result of its two articles on two separate hawkers running stalls there.
Earlier this week, it said in statements shared with Mothership and also posted to its Facebook page, that the two articles the website published were “inaccurate and misleading”:
It noted separately to Mothership that TISG had not contacted Foodfare for a response to the two hawkers’ allegations.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, TISG announced it was being sued by Foodfare in an article published on its website that also reproduced Foodfare’s lawyers’ letter of demand in full.
Here’s their Facebook post linking to the article:
TISG’s articles to stay up
In it, site publisher Kumaran Pillai said that financially, apologising to Foodfare and taking down the articles would be the “easy way out”, but said it was giving “voice to the voiceless” in running stories like the two articles.
Kumaran also said the articles were “based on facts and (they) do have material evidence to back it up, to corroborate what (they) have written”.
He added that they have followed up with questions posed to Foodfare’s lawyers.
In TISG‘s response to the letter of demand, both of which it reproduced in its article, Kumaran said:
“For now, TISG will not take down its articles until and unless our stories are proven to be utterly false, fabricated and baseless.”
An NTUC spokesperson was subsequently quoted in a Today article as saying:
“Such false information spreading online can have negative social consequences. We have addressed the false information by issuing statements online.
As a responsible social enterprise, we will proceed to take legal action against the publishers of such false news.”
Previous false claims
TISG has previously been asked to correct claims made in its articles.
In March this year, it falsely claimed that the Crown Prince of Johor had commented on a political matter between a Malaysian Minister and businessman Robert Kuok.
After a public statement from the Johor Royal Court, TISG took down the article.
In Aug. 2017, it falsely claimed that a hospital in Johor Bahru withheld treatment from a Singaporean road accident victim, pending a cash payment upfront by his family.
However, Malaysia’s Director-General of the Ministry of Health issued a statement refuting the claim and Malaysian authorities said that it would file a “formal complaint” with the Singaporean authorities.
TIS took down the article and issued an apology.
Top image adapted from The Independent SG’s website and Facebook page and NTUC Foodfare’s Facebook page.
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