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After NTU student’s story of false claims in Lianhe Wanbao, another netizen comes forward

Singapore—In the wake of the NTU student Quah Zheng Jie coming forward to expose that a reporter from Lianhe Wanbao falsely claimed have interviewed him for a story, another netizen has come forward with her own story of similar claims.

Lawyer Moi Sok Ling published a note on Facebook on May 19 with the heading, “SPH refuses to correct misleading articles which triggered harassment and threats.”  She recounted her difficult experience with Singapore Press Holdings, the parent company of Lianhe Wanbao, Shin Min Daily News, The Straits Times (ST), and other publications.

Ms Moi, a part of whose story TISG told last December, said that she had been deeply concerned about Mr Quah’s “difficulties in seeking redress from SPH” about the fabricated interview.

She added that she published the note “to stand in solidarity with the NTU student and many others who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of irresponsible reporting by the media.”

In 2014, Ms Moi was involved in a traffic accident when a taxi collided with her car, which caused the lawyer to need hospitalization and medical treatment. This occurred on the first day she started working in a new firm. And as her injuries were so severe that her performance was affected, she lost that job a few months afterwards. As of last December, she was still undergoing physiotherapy and acupuncture sessions as the accident left her in chronic pain.

The claim lawsuit with the insurer of the taxi was only resolved recently.

Ms Moi’s troubles with SPH are due to misleading headlines and articles that portrayed her as someone who was seeking  hundreds of thousands of dollars from the taxi driver, when all the while it was the insurer that would settle her claims. The driver, whom the Judicial Commissioner on the case deemed to be fully responsible for the accident, did not have to pay anything in resolution of the case, nor did she ever ask him to.

However, SPH publications suggested otherwise, with one Straits Times headline reading, ““Lawyer seeks … damages from cabby.” Lianhe Zaobao/Shin Min Daily News in the meantime stated that the taxi driver was made to “bear 100% responsibility” and that he was sued “tragically” out of pocket.

The lawyer wrote, “Singapore’s compulsory motor insurance scheme was enacted precisely to ensure that victims of road traffic accidents would receive compensation, and their recovery is not dependent on the financial means of the errant driver.”

Other parts of the SPH stories said “A lawyer…is seeking a record .. damages for disruption to her career progression,” and “she claimed her injuries adversely impacted her career and promotion prospects, therefore she sued the cabby.”

Because of the false and misleading statements in the articles Ms Moi found herself the target of online hatred, doxxing, cyber bullying and even veiled threats to her safety in an email that had also been sent to her former employer, the Senior Minister of State for Law and Health as well as the president of the Law Society of Singapore.

Furthermore, while she had declined a request from an ST reporter for an interview while the case was ongoing, offering instead to give an exclusive interview after the settlement negotiations were done, ST proceeded with telling her the story, as well as publishing her name, age, employment details and the specifics of her injuries.

On the day that ST ran the story about her, reporters from Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News went to see her at her office and her home, as well as ran “breaking news” about her case on their front pages, featuring her picture on the front page.

While Ms Moi sought to meet with ST to talk about her “distress and concerns” about the articles in the different publications, on the day the meeting was scheduled, ST ran another article about the case, publishing the same details, and posting her photo on its Facebook page.

As we reported last December,  Ms Moi instructed her lawyers to issue a letter on December 2019 to request that the SPH have its editors of the various news media publish clarification statements concerning her accident claim.  Her lawyers said back then, “Our client remains hopeful that SPH will do the right and responsible thing to resolve this issue satisfactorily.”

On Tuesday, Ms Moi wrote that SPH had refused to accede to any of my requests, and its curt denial of responsibility has been most disappointing,” using the same word that Mr Quah used to describe how he felt at SPH’s response.

She added that instead of taking action upon learning of what Ms Moi suffered due to the falsehoods and misinformation printed about her, “the SPH’s reporters and editors have chosen to hide behind their legal team to categorically deny all responsibility.”

Her note is also one way to ensure the public, who may have misconstrued her character.

However, she also wondered why complete details about the taxi company and their insurer had never been disclosed in the SPH reports. “Surely, the public would benefit from being informed about the safety record of taxi companies, the compulsory motor insurance scheme or what to do in an accident claim process. Most importantly, the public should be assured that the victim of a traffic accident would receive compensation from the insurance company whatever the financial means of the errant driver,” the lawyer wrote.

She added that “SPH has missed an opportunity to restore public trust in traditional news media and to lead the industry on the best way forward to combat ‘fake news’ in this internet age.” —/TISG

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