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Media agency exec and politician Nicole Seah threatens SPH with legal action over ‘gutter journalism’ stories

Asiaone's take on Nicole Seah's Facebook pic

Asiaone’s take on Nicole Seah’s Facebook pic

Nicole Seah, an account manager at media agency IPG Mediabrands and a senior member of the opposition party in Singapore, has responded angrily to newspaper articles that imply she is dating a married man, threatening to sue publisher Singapore Press Holdings for defamation.

The claims, made by SPH-owned English and Chinese language newspapers – which are both sympathetic to the government – are based on a photograph Seah published on her Facebook page in which she is pictured with another man.

The picture was first picked up as a gossip piece on the Singapore Hardware Zone blog, which wondered if Seah had a new boyfriend. This was later reported by SPH-owned Chinese newspaper Lian He Wan Bao, with the headline ‘Nicole seah uploads photo with married man on facebook’. The paper did not give Seah the right to reply.

The story later ran on SPH news portal Asiaone, with the headline ‘Nicole Seah uploads photo of her with man believed to be married.’

In the body copy of both articles, it is reported that the man Seah is seen with in the picture, Steven Goh, was married between 2009 and 2011 but is now divorced.

A heated backlash followed online, prompting Lian He Wan Bao to soften the tone of its headline – to ‘Nicole Seah has a new relationship, reveals intimate photo on facebook’ – and AsiaOne to delete its story altogether.

Seah, who is Second Assistant Secretary-General of the National Solidarity Party and a senior account manager at IPG Mediabrands in Singapore, wrote on her Facebook page:

There are news reports in BOTH English and Chinese mainstream media that I am seeing a married man.

This is NOT true at all, and an example of gutter journalism at its finest. Nobody even called me to clarify this and went to town with the story.

To MSM – If you’re looking to sensationalize your news in order to increase your dwindling readership at the expense of tarnishing a person’s reputation, please do so based on fact and have the decency to at least verify your sources before running off to print.

Please help me spread the word if you see this grossly inaccurate report circulating around the Internet. Thank you very much for your help.

She later stepped her defence on her Facebook page, writing:

My contacts in the media industry are currently looking into asking for an official apology from the Singapore Press Holdings for the irreversible damage that they have caused to me and my loved ones because of their baseless and irresponsible reporting.

Failing which, I am looking into the very real possibility of suing them for libel and slander.

Just because I’m from the opposition doesn’t accord the media more liberties to mess around with my reputation. After all, they wouldn’t dare do the same with anyone from the PAP. Please compare Steve Chia’s and Yaw Shin Leong’s case against what happened with Michael Palmer. In Palmer’s case, he got away quietly and the girl involved was implicated severely.

My situation is completely innocuous and there is even no semblance of a scandal or mistake that I have to own up to. I have absolutely nothing to hide.

In the meantime, I ask of a favour from the general public, if you are free, to kindly write to the Singapore Press Holdings and demand that they refrain from practising double standards and baseless accusations in their reporting.

This is not just about me or my reputation. This is about journalistic integrity in Singapore at large and will have bearing on the way other news is being reported, and is akin to deceit to the public in their skewed reporting.

– Nicole Seah

Both newspapers have yet to respond.

IPG Mediabrands declined to comment.

Seah is giving a talk on ‘Cracking the social media code’ at a Mediabrands event that reveals the results of a global social media study in Singapore next week.

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