SINGAPORE - The lawyer for blogger Roy Ngerng has written to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) criticising them for public statements they made regarding Mr Ngerng's defamation suit after he was fired on Tuesday.
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Update:TTSH says 'nothing improper' in its statement
In a statement on Wednesday night, Tan Tock Seng Hospital pointed out that Mr Ngerng had admitted to posting a defamatory article and said that there was "nothing improper" in its statement on Tuesday:
Statement from TTSH on June 11
We refer to the letter from Mr Roy Ngerng's lawyer to TTSH on 11 June 2014.
Mr Roy Ngerng on 23 May 2014, had publicly admitted that on 15 May 2014, he posted a defamatory article on the internet alleging misappropriation of funds in relation to the Central Provident Fund and also that his allegation "is false and completely without foundation."
Our statement (10 June 2014) laid out the reasons for Mr Roy Ngerng's termination of contract of employment based on his public admission that he had defamed without basis and for misusing working time, hospital computers and facilities for his personal pursuits. There was nothing improper in the Hospital's statement.
Here is the letter from Mr Ngerng's lawyer Mr M Ravi to TTSH and MOH:
Mr Roy Ngerng is being privately sued for defamation by Mr Lee Hsien Loong arising out of Certain statements he published for which he has issued apologies.
Pending a final judgment of the Singapore Courts of the civil proceedings for defamation, that lawsuit is sub judice. Its outcome remains a matter for the Courts to determine. That is the rule of law.
The law of defamation is complex. It may entail analysis of technical issues arising out of the pursuit of proceedings after apology and the assessment of quantum of damages. lt includes issues that may give rise to an appeal and the determination of such an appeal.
Mr Roy Ngerng had been employed as a patient coordinator by the Tan Tock Seng Hospital. On account of his statements his employment has been terminated. The Tan Tock Seng Hospital has issued a public statement in which it cites the defamation as a basis for justifying the termination of his employment stating that people cannot defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is not a party to the contract of employment between Mr Roy Ngerng and the TTSH which the employer has terminated. The MOH has nonetheless issued a public statement in which it supports TTSH's decision stating that Mr Ngerng's actions show a lack of integrity and are incompatible with the values and standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees.
Neither the TTSH nor the Ministry of Health are parties to the civil litigation, Whose final determination awaits the judgment of the Courts.
As Roy Ngerng's Advocate in the defamation proceedings which are before the Court, and in the interests of maintaining respect for the judiciary and public confidence in the rule of law, it would seem appropriate to request that restraint be exercised in relation to issuing public statements about decisions and inferences in relation to matters that are intricately connected to the Subject matter of the litigation.
In these circumstances, and while the civil proceedings are before the Court, it is to be regretted that the MOH has seen to issue a public statement that it supports TTSH'5 decision to terminate Mr Ngerng's employment, at this time.