SINGAPORE: Social enterprise co-operative NTUC Foodfare said on Wednesday (Nov 21) that it will take legal action against socio-political website The Independent Singapore (TISG) for publishing allegedly defamatory articles.
On Tuesday, lawyers representing NTUC Foodfare sent a letter to TISG demanding an apology and the removal of two articles and Facebook posts by 3pm on Wednesday.
The articles, which are still online, claim that an elderly hawker had passed away after working 18-hour days and another stallholder was fined S$3,500 for not operating his stall for a few days because he was "injured".
In response to the letter of demand, TISG’s publisher Mr Kumaran Pillai said on Wednesday that the articles were based on "relevant facts', and that it would not remove the stories by the deadline, as it needed more time to investigate the allegations.
Mr Pillai also added that the articles would only be taken down if they were proved to be “utterly false, fabricated and baseless” by NTUC Foodfare.
On the first article that was published, NTUC Foodfare told Channel NewsAsia that it contained several untruths that are clearly defamatory of the social enterprise.
The article, which was published on Monday, claimed that an elderly hawker at a food court at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 died from exhaustion after working 18-hour shifts.
"The article is inaccurate and misleading and contained several untruths put together, which clearly are defamatory of us. Such false information spreading online can have negative social consequences," a spokesperson for NTUC Foodfare said.
"We have addressed the false information by issuing statements online. As a responsible social enterprise, we will proceed to take legal action against the publishers of such false news.”
In a media statement posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, NTUC Foodfare clarified that it had never received any request or appeal from the stallholder mentioned in the first article to shorten hours.
In a second media statement issued on the same day, it clarified its account of the incident with the second stallholder.
The second article by TISG made the claim that NTUC Foodfare had imposed a S$3,500 fine on another stallholder who was unable to operate for a few days.
NTUC Foodfare's lawyers added both articles and Facebook post had over 7,000 shares and close to 300 comments on Facebook, and caused NTUC to be "disparaged and injured in its character and reputation and has suffered considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment".