You might remember Ng Ming Wei, a Singaporean taekwondo athlete whose journey toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics we featured last month:
We subsequently learned that Ng had along the way lost his status as a carded athlete, one of quite a number of national taekwondo players who appear to have fallen short of Sport Singapore's criteria in recent years.
Ng's journey would go on to take a turn southward, however.
In a six-page letter sent from Templars Law LLC dated April 24, 2019, the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) moved to accuse Ng of making "false allegations" and "misleading statements" to the media, consequently alleging that Ng had "defamed STF by targeting (its) integrity":
"You have provided misleading information about STF to local reporters, making claims, among others, that you had in a Facebook post shared on your Facebook page on 8 April 2019, you stated the following:
'I don't know why my carding has not been approved. To be fair to all parties, I therefore can't say it's anyone's fault in particular. All I know is that Sport Singapore decides on carding based on input from the STF and its players.'
The above post was transmitted to all of your 'followers' on your Facebook page, and in sharing the said post, have defamed STF by targeting our client's integrity."
The STF also asked for Ng's help in identifying the people who set up at least two Instagram and two Facebook accounts, which the STF claimed have been "publishing defamatory posts with the sole purpose of attacking STF's integrity".
"Malicious, false and reckless" allegations "caused injury to the reputation and standing" of STF
Without specifying which precise posts they were referring to, or which accounts were responsible for them, STF's lawyers wrote:
"Posts and statements made about STF, amongst others contain allegations and false statements bearing malicious falsehoods and which in their natural meaning and/or by innuendo, which the Federation considers to be libellous. The allegations and statements, inter alia, were understood to mean that:
a. STF lacks integrity;
b. STF is dishonest;
c. STF is unprincipled;
Our Client is of the view that the allegations you have made about STF to-date are malicious, false and reckless and has caused injury to the reputation and standing of our Client."
It repeated a previous offer from the federation to meet with Ng to discuss options on how it can support him in his Olympic bid, but issued a demand that Ng "cease making such false and/or misleading and/or defamatory statements about STF".
"However, should you refuse to discuss your grievances with the STF privately and persist in making such false and/or misleading and/or malicious statements about STF, our Client will proceed to commence legal proceedings without any further reference to you, and look to you for any legal costs incurred herein."
"I am prepared to defend myself all the way"
In response to the letter, Ng said he regretted that STF had chosen to channel resources into suing him over his comments when it could have been better spent improving support for the team, but that he would defend himself nonetheless.
"... After all, we just want to bring glory to Singapore. That's all we want to do.
In any event, if I am going to have to defend myself, I am prepared to defend myself all the way. I just wish it hadn't turned out this way."
Top photo via Ng Ming Wei's Facebook page.