Soh's comments show he is 'ungrateful', 'uncaring', says Malik's defence counsel, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Soh's comments show he is 'ungrateful', 'uncaring', says Malik's defence counsel

Marathoner Soh Rui Yong's comments on Singapore Athletics (SA), the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and other individuals showed that he is "unreasonable", "illogical", "ungrateful" and "uncaring", said defence counsel Mahmood Gaznavi in court on Thursday (Jan 13).

Gaznavi, who is representing former SA executive director Malik Aljunied in the defamation case brought by Soh, said this as he cross examined Soh for a third consecutive day.

The national marathoner is alleging that Malik made defamatory comments in a Facebook post and remarks on the same post's threat in August 2019.

Thursday's morning session saw Gaznavi questioning Soh on comments he made relating to SNOC on his website, including a post on Aug 24, 2019 in which he published legal letters from SNOC and Soh's representatives.

This prompted Judge Lim Wee Ming and Soh's counsel Gerard Quek to question the relevance of Gaznavi's use of such evidence to show the athlete's conduct, as the comments were made after Malik's alleged defamatory remarks.

After a 45-minute adjournment in chambers, Gaznavi in the afternoon session referred to Soh's correspondence with Malik and former SA legal adviser Edmond Pereira - who is president of the local athletics club Soh is a member of - as well as comments relating to former national marathoner Ashley Liew and ex-SA honorary secretary Eric Song.

Gaznavi cited Soh's description of Malik as "one last cancer" that remained in SA on a Facebook post on Sept 30, 2020 and asked if Soh agreed he was behaving "unreasonably" or in an "illogical manner".

He added: "(Would you agree) that you have been ungrateful to Mr Malik for all the help he has rendered you whether as an official or in his personal capacity... that you have indicated by this comment of yours that you are an uncaring person?

Soh disagreed with all his suggestions.

During re-examination by Quek, Soh described difficulties he faced as an athlete, such as being charged for failing to obtain SA's written permission to speak to the media, being restricted from promoting personal sponsors during a "blackout" period for the 2017 SEA Games, and uncertainty in securing funding for his training and competition plans.

He said he had written to Malik on previous occasions to seek SA funding for such plans only because the latter was SA's point of contact, and that he was requesting assistance from SA and not Malik.

Malik, 54, will take the stand on Friday and a number of prominent sports figures like SNOC secretary general Chris Chan, former SA president Tang Weng Fei, former national swimmer and SA vice-president Ang Peng Siong have been lined up as witnesses for the defendant.

The dispute between Soh and Malik began after the latter posted comments following the controversial omission of the runner from the 2019 SEA Games by SNOC selectors as they cited "numerous instances" in which his conduct fell short of the standards it expects.

Soon after, Soh filed a defamation writ against Malik in the High Court, but the case was transferred to the State Court in December 2020 after it was deemed that there was "nothing to support the assertion that (Soh) would be entitled to damages exceeding $250,000".