Xiaxue taking out Protection Order against SMRT Ltd (Feedback)

From ‘Xiaxue takes out Protection Order against SMRT Ltd (Feedback)’, 6 Feb 2015, article in CNA

Controversial blogger Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, has taken out a Protection Order against satirical group, SMRT Ltd (Feedback) for repeated harassment.  The Protection Order, which comes under the Protection from Harassment Act enacted in November last year, is meant to prevent the satirical group from publishing or continuing to publish offensive comments about Ms Cheng and her family.

Making the announcement in a blog post today (Feb 6), Ms Cheng, 30, claimed that she has been harassed by the anonymous entity since 2012, ranging from snide comments on her looks and height to disparaging her character. Her family has not been spared from harassment as well, she wrote.

Speaking to TODAY, she said that the circulation of her home address online was among the reasons leading to her decision to take out the Protection Order. It was published by a netizen on the SMRT Ltd (Feedback)’s Facebook page.

…Should they flout the court order and persist in making insulting or abusive comments against Ms Cheng and her family, they could be fined up to S$5,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

There is one man out there who would be following this saga keenly, a man who scams Vietnamese tourists for a living and was forced to close shop because of online harassment. In fact, Xiaxue may be ‘influencing’ him to do the same to the self-proclaimed vigilante group as we speak. Jover Chew, time to unleash your own Protection Order bro. It costs about $300-500 to lodge a magistrate’s complaint, which is the amount you earn from a crappy second-hand iPhone sale. I don’t think they accept payment in bags of coins, though.

It wasn’t long after the legislation against cyberbullying was enacted last year before a Frenchman summoned a PO against a certain Dr Param, who uploaded a Youtube video with what I’d assume to be offensive and scathing captions about the foreigner after a spat in a petrol kiosk. Param was ordered to remove the captions, the contents of which remain a mystery. There was a time when PPOs or personal protection orders were filed against drunk, abusive wife-beating husbands. Today, if you have the money and the time, you could immunise yourself against disparaging insults and death threats by issuing orders against trolls who don’t physically camp outside your home stalking your ass, but talk trash about you behind a screen. The duress you suffer at the hands of these jerks may not even be a fraction of the trauma that Xiaxue professes to have gone through, and you can still get your PO filed.

It’s like defamation suit ‘lite’, for ordinary people who don’t expect to be awarded $29,000 for being flamed online.  In the no-holds-barred universe of social media, the intention of POs against online hooliganism is to make the Internet a place for shiny, happy people holding virtual hands, though it would certainly also make the web much less, well, FUN. There are ways around the viciousness without going to the courts. You could choose to block comments or followers, delete all your social media accounts, change your email and start your online life on a fresh slate, like how an abused wife would change the locks of her house to prevent a monster husband from barging in demanding for sex, money, or both. Seeking protection also doesn’t stop people from bitching about you openly in public, or sticking pins in a voodoo doll designed in your image. No legal summons in the world can do anything about the centuries-old force of human nature that is gossip.

Most people who aren’t celebrity bloggers, or rather INFLUENCERS,  may choose to simply ignore the bashing as long as nobody’s lurking outside their doorstep and their address and contacts remain secure. After all, haters gonna hate hate hate hate.  Alas, much of our gratification from social media is derived from people making fun of other people, and if today the victims of our collective Schadenfreude have at their disposal a legal tool to shut people up, well, there goes the entertainment. It’s the modern equivalent of pitting a gladiator with a sword vs another with a balloon sabre. No argument, no one-upmanship, no fight to the death, just one person using the code of law against the other over a reputation-slaying insult. That’s it. You can’t defame politicians without going bankrupt and now you have to think twice before telling Steven Lim that you’d rather stuff a used dildo in your ear than hear him sing.

Xiaxue is no angel by her own admission. Some years back she launched her own vendetta campaign against people who dissed her on Facebook, some who probably deserved it, but were deprived of the opportunity to file POs against the Tyre Queen herself. Mean blog posts aside, her Twitter feed is a candid resource of violent, vulgar insults against her critics, blog rivals and innocent human beings who happen to be brought here to take up jobs that Singaporeans spit upon. Even her neighbours’ babies are not spared.

To those who have been hurt or shamed by her before, or had their families unwittingly implicated over a ‘geylang chicken’ remark, SMRT Ltd’s antics are just a sweet case of ‘what goes around comes around’. After all, legal proceedings aside, Xiaxue has a loyal army of fans (at least 40,000 daily readers) ready to defend her honour. A good time to be a lawyer, nonetheless, now being open season for ‘hater’ hunting. Tyre Queen 1, SMRT Ltd Feedback 0.

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