SINGAPORE — There is "no basis" for a lawsuit filed by self-proclaimed "intelligent vaxxer" group Healing the Divide against Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), said the media giant on Thursday (11 November).
In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, SPH confirmed that it had received the group's legal notice. "We stand by our report and will defend this rigorously,” said an SPH spokesperson.
In a statement on Tuesday, the group said one of its members filed the lawsuit under Section 15 of the Protection from Harassment Act.
The anti-vaxxer group added, "We are not suing SPH for harassment. Rather, we are suing them for making false statements of fact. If the court accepts our evidence and finds that there is indeed a false statement of fact, the court can make several orders including stop publication orders and correction orders."
Healing the Divide was referring to the "false statements of fact” made in the 7 August 2021 commentary "Only fair to protect vulnerable in S’pore against Covid-19 spread by unvaccinated people" published by SPH's newspaper The Straits Times.
The group took issue with two statements in the article: “Only fair to protect vulnerable in S‘pore against Covid-19 spread by unvaccinated people.” and “People who are not vaccinated face a much higher risk of getting infected and spreading the disease.”
It said, "As the main source of information in this country, we feel that they have both a legal and moral obligation to present the facts regarding COVID-19 and the pandemic and we would like to hold them to account."
Legal papers were filed on 28 October and a pre-trial conference has been scheduled for the end of the month, it added. It did not elaborate on why it considered the two statements false.
Healing the Divide was founded by Iris Koh and her husband Raymond Ng. The "Healing the Divide Discussion" Telegram group has more than 3,800 subscribers.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) noted that Koh’s YouTube channel has a history of "posting and sharing content that perpetuates falsehoods and misleading information about COVID-19 and vaccines".
MOH therefore welcomed YouTube's latest removal of content from the channel, which includes “Town Hall Meeting: United We Stand For Choice”, and “Healing the Divide: Remembering Those We Love and Lost”, for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
In response to MOH, Koh denied that Healing the Divide is an anti-vaxxer group. She added, "In fact, we see ourselves as Intelligent Vaxxers!"
Ng also posted a video statement on Thursday claiming that "defamatory words" were used on Koh and Healing the Divide, and that they are consulting their lawyers about "legal options" against MOH.
He added, "I am compelled by law and duty to my great country to report this case to the law enforcement. Probably Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. It is not up to me to overlook any fault that may be made by any Ministry for that matter."
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