About three years ago, I posted in my blog a posting quoting a few paragraphs from the Guardian newspaper of the UK. It referred to the activities of a company in Singapore, which I shall refer to as X, selling land banks at 16 times of the actual cost of land. and pointed out several misrepresentations contained in their marketing material. My posting contained a link to the UK website.
It attracted many angry comments from investors in Singapore who voiced their anger at X for "cheating" them; based on their actual experience prior to reading my posting.
A week later, I received a letter from the lawyer acting from X. The legal firm is one of the big names in Singapore. The lawyer letter, which was marked "Private & Confidential" alleged that certain statements in my postings were "baseless and false" and asked me to show proof to back up my statements.
It was followed with a demand to remove the postings, issue a letter of apology using their wordings, and to spend two full days in the office of X to be "educated" about their value of their operations. YES, TWO FULL DAYS " just like being in jail. If I do not respond within 14 days, they will file a suit in court against me for defamation.
If I fight this matter in court, I estimate that it will cost me $500,000 - with money to be paid to two sets of lawyers, if I lose.
I pointed out that if the allegations were false, could X send the facts for me to post in my blog? This was rejected by the lawyer. I pointed out that the allegations were in the UK website - would they reply there and copy to me. It was rejected by the lawyer. The demand to act within 14 days was repeated.
I acted first to remove the blog. Each time I received an e-mail to demand compliance, I replied immediately. The lawyer took a few days to reply to me. In the course of the exchange, several weeks passed. The director of X became impatient and posted a statement in their corporate website stating "Tan Kin Lian is a liar". It contained the details of the letters that their lawyer had sent to me, but not the terms of their unconscionable demands.
I wrote to the lawyer and asked for their agreement for me to publish the full content of their letters sent to me under "Private & Confidential" cover. I wanted the public at large to know what kind of "bullying" demands were contained in their letter.
The lawyer did not reply for three weeks. I sent them a reminder. No reply. Suddenly, all their demands on me stopped. No further news. No need to publish a letter of apology and to spend two full days at the office in X.
They do not even have the courtesy to tell me that their client's demand have been withdrawn. They do not even reply to my e-mail after sending several "bullying" letters (in e-mail to me). This is how despicable a reputable lawyer can behave.
I decided to drop this matter, as I have more useful matters to attend to. More than two years have since passed, with full silence. Each time I read the name of the lawyer and the firm, I cursed. (God forgive me).
One year after this episode, company X was raided by the Commercial Affairs Department over alleged fraudulent practices.
I want to share this perspective with people who do are not circumspect or sympathetic with people who were being threatened with defamation suit.