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TMCNet:  Singapore blogger agrees to remove posts on PM's demand

[January 04, 2013]

Singapore blogger agrees to remove posts on PM's demand

SINGAPORE, Jan 04, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A Singapore blogger said on Friday that he would remove four online posts which the lawyers of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said had defamatory comments, local media reported.

Alex Au, the blogger, said he will also put up a letter of apology, as requested by the lawyers of the prime minister.

Au published the article, "PAP mis-AIMed, faces blowback," in four parts on his page on blogging site wordpress.com since Dec.

21.

He made comments on the recent exchange of words between Teo Ho Pin, a lawmaker of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and coordinating chairman of the PAP town councils, and Sylvia Lim, an opposition lawmaker who chairs the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.


The letter of demand sent by Lee through his lawyers said that the article are immediately followed by some 21 comments posted on Au's website, creating "false and baseless allegations." "The posts, when read with the article and/or by themselves, mean and are understood to mean that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is guilty of corruption in relation to the AIM transaction and will abuse his powers to cover up the matter and/or prevent any investigation into his corruption," it said.

It demanded that Au immediately remove the posts and publish an apology on his blog site within three days.

Singapore is known for its rule of law and clean government. It ranks the fifth out of 176 countries and regions in 2011 on the corruption perception index of Transparency International. The authorities encourage free but responsible use of the Internet.

Au was quoted as saying on Friday that he would remove the posts and put up a letter of apology.

However, the episode should "not distract from the issue of the sale of town council software to Action Information Management ( AIM)," he said.

The recent exchange of words between Teo and Lim arose after the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council received a pending rating for corporate governance for a town council management report.

The lawmakers of PAP, which has been the ruling party in the country over the past decades with an absolute majority in the parliament, chair the all but the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, the only town councils chaired by an opposition lawmaker.

Lim attributed the rating to the computer systems being changed at the time, after AIM, which owns the software, terminated its contract with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.

The matter then morphed into issues of transparency and public interest, and questions were raised about why the software was sold to AIM, a company fully owned by the PAP.

Teo has since defended the allegations, saying that the 14 PAP town councils work closely with one another to derive economies of scale and to share best practices.

When the tender was advertised in June 2010, five companies collected the tender documents, but only AIM submitted a bid.

The town councils evaluated the bid submitted by AIM, and its proposal to buy over the software was consistent with the model suggested by Deloitte and Touche of centralizing the ownership of the software, he said.

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