Woman in Vietnam ordered to serve 5 days' jail in Singapore over defamatory posts

A woman looking at her laptop screen. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A woman looking at her laptop screen. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A Singaporean man has successfully applied for a court order against a former employee who defamed him on Facebook, after the Vietnamese woman breached an order to stop posting defamatory allegations.

Do Thi Minh Diep, 25, was found guilty of contempt of court before District Judge (DJ) Seah Chi-Ling and ordered to commit to five days’ jail in Singapore after she was found to have breached an order issued under the Protection from Harassment Act by repeating defamatory allegations.

The original application was taken out by David Ang, a 43-year-old Singaporean, who had hired Diep in January last year by his firm in Singapore and was handling administrative and other duties.

Diep resigned in October 2020 and returned to Vietnam in December that year, and has since remained in her country.

The order, made on 9 July by DJ Seah, was served on Diep via Facebook messenger on 26 July, according to Ang’s lawyer Clarence Lun from Fervent Law Chambers.

Diep will have to serve jail in Singapore if she were to return. She was also ordered to pay Ang $2,500 in costs, which Lun will be attempting to obtain through proceedings involving Diep’s bank account in Singapore.

From 5 February this year, Diep began publishing false and defamatory allegations against Ang and his companies in several Facebook posts, claiming that she had been forced to work up to 300 hours a month.

In her statements, she also alleged that she had been employed under an incorrect working visa, and that Ang's companies had withheld or refused to pay her renumeration in breach of her contract. She threatened to complain to the Ministry of Manpower.

Two days later, she published several more allegations on a Facebook page “Chilli Do” through a Facebook Live video, alleging that Ang and his companies had falsely declared her salary and engaged in a practice of remitting her monthly salary of $2,700 by GIRO before clawing back $1,000 in cash monthly.

Diep published another two defamatory Facebook posts, including photos of Ang with an unnamed woman with the caption “KTV GIRL”, claiming that Ang, a married man and father, had met a hostess named Serene and “immediately fell for her sexy curvy looks with deep attraction”. She claimed that Ang had two children with “Serene” and that one had to be sent to Vietnam as a result of a fallout from the "affair". She further claimed that Ang’s actual wife had no idea of his “affair”.

Lun argued in submissions that Diep had made “abusive and insulting remarks against (Ang’s) alleged sexual promiscuity".

The photos had been taken at the rental premises of one of Ang’s offices, which only three persons, including Ang and Diep, had access to.

Following the libellous posts, Ang sought an expedited protection order against Diep, demanding that she remove the Facebook posts and desist from publishing further allegations. The application under the Protection from Harassment Act was heard and granted in March this year. It was served to Diep’s email and via Facebook message to Diep’s Facebook page on 29 March 2021.

A series of exchanges between Diep's and Ang's lawyers in March confirmed that Diep had been aware of the expedited protection order against her. Diep further posted about these messages on her Facebook page, seeking assistance.

Diep did not remove the 7 February Facebook post, in breach of her order. Instead, Diep added to her Facebook post, "When speak truth, nothing scare (sic). I pray to God that justice can come."

She continued publishing Facebook posts with similar allegations against her former company and Ang.

Speaking to Yahoo News Singapore following the contempt of court order, Ang said that he had felt "hurt, embarrassed and harassed" by Diep's Facebook posts.

"Now that the court has found (Diep) to be in contempt of court, I felt that justice has been done, and a sense of relief.

"I know that even though Do Minh Diep has returned to Vietnam, it is a relief that if she chooses to return to Singapore, she has to meet the punishment sentenced by the court."

Ang also thanked Lun for his help, adding that he wished to move on with life from the difficult episode.

Under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016, contempt of court carries a jail term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $20,000 for a case not presided by the High Court or Court of Appeal.

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