Soh Rui Yong makes settlement offer to former SA executive director Malik in defamation suit
Top national marathoner Soh Rui Yong made a settlement offer to former Singapore Athletics (SA) executive director Malik Aljunied in court on Monday (Jan 17).
Soh is alleging that Malik had in August 2019 made defamatory comments in a Facebook post and remarks on the same post's thread.
Soh's counsel Gerard Quek made the offer before the start of the fifth day of the trial, saying that he was given instructions to put it on record "to resolve the matter".
The offer was not immediately accepted nor rejected.
Mr Quek said on Monday that Soh feels "satisfied with the concessions made by (Malik) on the stand on Friday" and "feels in his own way vindicated".
On Friday, Malik had explained in court that he took down the alleged defamatory post after about 15 hours because they were not "in good taste".
Later, Malik also agreed with Mr Quek asserting he had made the post "impulsively" and "without carefully considering meanings of each of the words he posted".
Mr Quek on Monday also said that Soh, 30, feels it is "not necessary or good for the sport" to have the legal matter continue further, and also does not wish to put some prominent sports figures - listed as witnesses for the defendant who "he has much respect for" - "through the unpleasant experience of cross-examination".
Added Mr Quek: "The offer ... should not be taken as admission that his case is weak whatsoever; in fact my client believes his claim has been strengthened."
The offer, which will expire at the end of Monday, will see Soh discontinue his suit within five days of Malik accepting, with both parties agreeing no order for costs.
District Judge Lim Wee Ming then asked Malik's counsel, Mahmood Gaznavi, whether his client needed time to consider the offer before continuing with court proceedings, to which Mr Gaznavi simply said: "We don't need time, we want to carry on."
He then called on former SA president Tang Weng Fei to the stand as a witness for the defendant, with Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) secretary general Chris Chan slated to follow after him.
Other sports figures like Flash Athletics Club president Edmond Pereira, former national swimmer and SA vice-president Ang Peng Siong, and former national water polo player and SA general manager Yip Ren Kai are also lined up as witnesses for the defendant.
The dispute between Soh and Malik began after the comments posted by the latter shortly after Soh was controversially left out of the 2019 SEA Games by SNOC selectors as they cited "numerous instances" where 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".
Soh was also involved in a separate court case against fellow marathoner Ashley Liew and was in September 2021 ordered by the District Court to pay the latter $180,000 for defamation. Soh has filed an appeal in the High Court.