From ‘Lee Hsien Yang send lawyer’s letter to TR Emeritus’, 23 Feb 2012, article in asiaone.com
Another laywer’s letter has been sent to editor of TR Emeritus (TRE), Mr Richard Wan, on Tuesday. This time, it is from the chairman of Fraser and Neave (F&N), Mr Lee Hsien Yang. Mr Lee is also the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Lawyers from Stamford Law, acting on behalf of Mr Lee, had sent a letter on Tuesday to Mr Wan, requesting for an alleged defamatory comment on its site to be removed.
In the letter, Mr Lee’s acting lawyer, Mr Tan Chuan Thye, told TRE that a netizen had left a defamatory remark about Mr Lee in the comments section for one of its articles late last month.
The Straits Times reported that the letter said: “Mr Lee is determined to protect his reputation and would take all necessary and appropriate steps to do so.”
Mr Wan confirmed that he had received the lawyer’s letter and added that TRE had appointed lawyer M. Ravi as its legal counsel.
Mr Ravi, who will be drafting a response to Mr Lee’s lawyer, told The Straits Times: “TRE will resist the action vigorously in defence of freedom of expression in cyberspace.”
Richard Wan and Co are at the mercy of yet another Lee, barely reeling from an overdose of humble pie after issuing an apology issued to PM for posting remarks hinting at nepotism.There are online murmurs that Wan ‘coming out’ in the open was the perfect scapegoat for the government to launch a battery of scare tactics in the form of ‘lawyer’s letters’, doomsday summons which rank in dread above electricity bills, IRAS notifications and even wedding invitations.
Fact is anonymity or not, you will be put on 24 hour surveillance if you so much as attempt to draw the Lee family tree and connect the dots. It appears that the authorities have stomached for too long random wild allegations when they could have easily round up every blogger with a grudge against the Lees, but decided to curb the repercussions of blanket lawsuits by targetting just one guy, who isn’t even responsible for posting offensive material in the first place. The government is particularly talented in extracting apologies out of people, even big players like international papers, and TRE despite putting up a brave front, appears to have embroiled itself in a losing battle with the younger Lee who’s supported by a family of tenacious lawyers, his wife and father included. Even if the website goes down guns blazing, this incident is a warning sign that bloggers are ultimately responsible for not just what they write, but what they allow posted online by visitors. Deleting posts, making private potentially harmful content or even smashing your computer to bits and then burying it under the sea to get rid of evidence may not even salvage the situation. Whether a sanitised version of a blog like TRE necessarily makes for less lively debate remains to be tested in the arena of ‘socio-political’ media. I’m not sure how important TRE considers itself to be that its downfall would spell the end of ‘freedom of expression’, but it’s clear what the government’s intentions are whether or not TRE succumbs to pressure and closes shop for good. Might as well, TR Emeritus is a silly name for a serious blog anyway, even if it’s meant as an inside joke in reference to a certain ex PM who currently holds the title and means it.
But I couldn’t resist. Lee Hsien Yang is represented here by his wife Lee Suet Fern’s company Stamford Law. According to her CV, a curious fact stands out in the last line amongst the other prestigious credentials, an impressive CAMBRIDGE ‘double first’ in Law, which was what LKY himself achieved in the same university. Our current PM was also a ‘double-firster’ for Maths, while Hsien Yang himself had ‘two first class honours’ in Engineering at 21, both also Cambridge alumni. Lee Hsien Loong’s first wife Dr Wong Ming Yang studied in Girton college, again CAMBRIDGE where she met her future husband. It would not surprise anyone if I add further that the late Mrs Lee Geok Choo was also from Cambridge. Li Shengwu, Hsien Yang’s son, is a top student at Oxford, a top debater and best speaker at a CAMBRIDGE IV international debating competition, and potential face to watch for avid fans of the Lee family. The only conclusion that I am allowed to make here about the ‘Cambridge connection’, without having any lawyer’s summons at my doorstep, is that both ex-Cambridge Lee boys have married Cambridge-trained wives, just like their parents. It’s probably also safe to say that a passion for excellence runs in the family, and under no circumstances am I insinuating that a choice of intelligent mates has anything to do with it.
Be kind people, I have mouths to feed. Leave your nasty comments somewhere else. I can’t afford to hire a lawyer to write expensive apologies.
Postscript: M Ravi was ‘abruptly discharged’ and TRE eventually relented, deleting the troublemaking post by ‘abs’ and issued a statement regretting the incident and thanking Lee for his understanding. Meanwhile the hunt is on for this elusive ‘netizen’ and the content of his/her post, with Lee’s lawyers requesting for the identity of the editor behind clone website Temasek Realm and the ‘full particulars’ of ‘abs’. If ‘abs’ knows what’s coming he/she would do well to delete all online footprints, user ids and Facebook. Meanwhile TRE continues to exist while working on its comment filter, though how that would prevail against acronyms, symbols or deliberate typos remains to be seen.