Blogger takes down post, comments over town councils' deal

PM Lee, through his lawyer, tells a blogger to apologise over a post on the town councils saga. (Yahoo! Singapore file photo/Alvin Ho)

UPDATED (5pm 5 January 2013 to add that blogger Alex Au has taken down the blog post and apologised for it)

Blogger Alex Au has taken down the blog post and 21 accompanying comments over a computer systems deal involving the ruling People's Action Party for being defamatory to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In a post on his blog on Saturday, Au apologised for the incident, saying that when the article, when read together with subsequent posts on the matter, meant or were understood to mean that Lee is guilty of corruption in relation to the transaction between PAP town councils and Action Information Management.

"I admit and acknowledge that these allegations are false and completely without foundation," Au said.

Au's actions come a day after being served a letter demanding he take down a blog post about the issue.

Local media reported that Au was asked to remove the first of a series of four posts he had written and published between 21 December last year and Thursday on his blog, all of which were entitled “PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback” — with the second through fourth posts suffixed part 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

In the letter, signed by Drew and Napier Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, Au’s post was said to contain “very serious suggestions of criminal breach of trust”, and because he referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, “of corruption” as well, reported TODAY.

According to the daily, Singh also highlighted 21 comments on Au’s post that he said, when either taken together with the blog post or read on their own, would suggest that PM Lee “is guilty of corruption in relation to the AIM transaction and will abuse his powers to cover up the matter or prevent any investigation into his corruption”.

“These are false and baseless allegations,” he reportedly wrote, adding that Au would have two days to remove his original post, as well as the 21 comments, and publish an apology.

Responding to the letter on Friday afternoon, Au said in an emailed statement to reporters that he accepted that his post and its accompanying comments were defamatory, and would take them down as requested, as well as put up a letter of apology.

“This should not distract from the issue of the sale of town council software to Action Information Management Pte Ltd.,” he added. “From what has been disclosed so far, reasonable people would have many questions, and while news of me getting a lawyer’s letter may be temporarily more ‘newsy’, it is more important for Singapore that these questions be answered, not avoided.”

PM Lee’s letter of demand to Au comes weeks into an unfolding public debate between Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman Sylvia Lim and AIM director S Chandra Das as well as PAP Town Council coordinating chairman Teo Ho Pin, over the sale of the town councils’ computer software systems to the PAP-owned company that has raised eyebrows among the internet community in Singapore.

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