APRIL 26, 2005
Posted: May 17, 2005
Jiahao Chen, freelance
The threat of legal action prompted Singaporean blogger Chen to shut down his site and post an apology for comments criticizing a government agency known as A*Star.
A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) acknowledged that it threatened to lodge a defamation suit against Chen, Channel NewsAsia reported. Chen, who is pursuing graduate studies in the United States, was formerly a scholarship student through the Singapore government. Under the pseudonym Acid Flask, he posted comments on his Web log criticizing A*Star’s policies, according to other Internet news sources.
On April 26, Chen shut down his site and posted a statement that “the price of maintaining the content … has become too high for the author to afford.” He apologized to A*Star and to its chairman, Philip Yeo, “for having hosted or made remarks which Mr. Yeo felt were defamatory to him and the agency that he leads,” and promised not to mention the chairman or the agency by name on the Web site.
Government agencies and officials in Singapore have often lodged civil and criminal defamation complaints—which can bring large fines and jail time—against traditional media outlets that criticize them by name.