Monday, June 30, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes: Is it Defamation?

As we all know, in the story, the Emperor was stupid enough to be fooled into believing that he has worn the most beautiful clothes which is in fact, nothing, and paraded around the country.
If the boy shouted, "That mad, crazy, gila and stupid Emperor is wearing nothing and walk around like an idiot...." will that considered as "defamation"?
In my view, this is NOT defamation because what the Emperor did indeed give EVERYBODY the impression that the Emperor is a madman, even though most people are afraid to say it out loud, unlike the boy. This is because what he has done has reasonably made any sane man to come to the conclusion that he is CRAZY, although they would not know that he has been fooled by the fraudsters. You can't blame or charge anyone who come to this conclusion, even though they can't "prove" the Emperor is crazy, for thinking so. If there is any defamation culprit, it is Emperor himself, for doing things that make others to think so.
Similarly, if a person keep making decisions and doing things that are full of conflicts of interests, it would naturally be INEVITABLE for people who come to know about it, to come to the simple conclusion that what he has been doing, is basically to benefit his own cronies or family members, even though there are so called "due processes" have been made.
The most obvious case in mind is the NEA Brompton bikes tender incident. The immediate impression given to the public when the case was first exposed on the internet, is that there are corruptions involved. This is despite the fact that there were no concrete evidence of a transfer of benefits (either in kind or cash) from the supplier to the officer in question. The only link was that they were friends and the supplier was prompted by the officer in advanced for the tender.
Any sane person who keep seeing a guy who put all his own clan or family members into important PUBLIC positions which benefited HUGELY from such appointments, would inevitably come to the conclusion that this guy has breached all counts of conflicts of interests and corrupt, no matter how good the reasons he has for doing so.
For public office holders, they must not only act diligently and clean without corruption intention, most importantly, they must be SEEN to be clean and incorruptible. Else, they cannot blame others of defamation if what they have done would make them seen as corrupt, irregardless of whatever reasons they may have to justify their actions. He can only blame himself for his own actions which leads to his own defamation, if any.
The more responsible way of carry out the duties of a public office, is to exercise "avoidance of conflicts of interests". It means that as long as there are great potential conflicts of interests, the public office holders should avoid it at all cost. This is to safeguard the moral authority of the office holders and to prevent any single doubt of integrity from arising in the public opinion.

Goh Meng Seng

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remember the TT Durai NKF case? The guy successfully sued for defamation (against SPH) yet, we all soon learnt, was guilty as hell.

Just because someone sues for defamation doesn't mean he's not guilty.