Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pissed by the law

Its the law again, and sadly, it is rearing its ugly head in, of all places, Singapore. And we thought that lawyerly shenanigans can only happen in Malaysia and Thailand, where it has taken place right up to the top of the legal hierarchy. Not that the law firm that issued the demand letter to tomorrow.sg was behaving improperly, that is. It is merely acting on the instructions of its client, one rather pompously identified as the "Grand Seasons International". For a moment there, I wondered why the 6-star Hotel chain that goes by that name was involved with a Time-share company. Well, my mistake, its the "Great" one and not the 6-star "4" one.

First off, let me say that it is bad to libel anyone. No, it is wrong. By that I mean to say or write about things that are unsubstantiated, or at least, that will likely not hold up in a 'legal' court of law. That's why professionals, like SPH, have an army of people to make sure that it keeps out of harm's way as it spews out tonnes of news and opinion. But even so, they got sued by the NKF, though they were vindicated in the end.

What about citizen journalists, or bloggers, as they are more commonly known as? Well, we are not so legally-savvy, and we tend to speak our minds most of the time. It doesn't really cross our minds that we need to have all the facts straight and that we have corroborated every piece of information before we form a conclusion and blog it for the world to read. So bloggers live dangerously, which is why anonymity is such a necessity. When the lawyers couldn't quite figure out who Gecko was, they turned to a source which likely had this information - tomorrow.sg. Some feel that tomorrow.sg is a victim here, but since it allowed its members to put up posts that originates from elsewhere, it is a publisher and therefore probably equally liable to the act of defamation - not that I am suggesting that it is guilty as charged - or that I am a lawyer.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Its just that sometimes, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and some people do not take kindly when that pen goes through their heart.

Image source: http://images.stockxpert.com/

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