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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.'

Sulaiman Daud | November 22, 2018 @ 03:22 pm

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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”:

NTUC FoodFare refutes online story of overworked elderly hawker as “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.

M’sia police investigating The Independent Singapore’s article about Johor’s Crown Prince

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.

Malaysia health ministry: JB hospital did not demand payment before treating S’porean victims of car accident

TIS took down the article and issued an apology.

S’pore website theindependent.sg publishes apology for “anguish and distress” in fatal JB accident

Related articles:

Hawker fined S$3,500 for closing stall produces email exchange that differs from Foodfare’s account

NTUC FoodFare refutes online story of overworked elderly hawker as “inaccurate and misleading”

Top image adapted from The Independent SG’s website and Facebook page and NTUC Foodfare’s Facebook page.

 

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About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve and his favourite person is Jürgen Klopp. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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