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‘Absolutely false’ that posts against Ashley Liew were made to gain more social media followers: Soh Rui Yong

SINGAPORE — Marathoner Soh Rui Yong denied that the accusations he levelled at fellow runner Ashley Liew was done to draw more followers on social media and increase his popularity. He also had to tell the court about a comment on a Facebook post that he changed, which Dr Liew’s lawyer suggested was done because of the trial.

‘Absolutely false’ that posts against Ashley Liew were made to gain more social media followers: Soh Rui Yong

Marathoner Soh Rui Yong arriving at the State Courts on Sept 11, 2020.

  • Lawyer Mark Teng said that marathoner Soh Rui Yong wanted to gain more social media followers 
  • That was why he went on social media to dispute runner Ashley Liew’s race account, he argued
  • He also said that Mr Soh changed a part of his Facebook comments to suit court papers that his lawyers submitted
  • Mr Soh said that he had gained a certain level of recognition based on his sporting records, not on Dr Liew

 

SINGAPORE — Marathoner Soh Rui Yong denied that the accusations he levelled at fellow runner Ashley Liew was done to draw more followers on social media and increase his popularity.

He also had to tell the court about a comment on a Facebook post that he changed, which Dr Liew’s lawyer suggested was done because of the trial.

Mr Soh, 29, was in court as a witness for the first time on Friday (Sept 11) after Dr Liew, 34, who is a doctor of chiropractic working at a private clinic, sued him for defamation.

Mr Soh, a two-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medallist, has alleged on several social media posts that Dr Liew did not slow down at a SEA Games marathon event in 2015 — an act that later won Dr Liew an award for sportsmanship.

At the time, Dr Liew found himself leading the 12-runner race in the men’s marathon after his rivals missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. He was said to have then ran slower in order to wait for them to catch up. 

On Friday, lawyer Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, who was representing Dr Liew, noted that Mr Soh’s follower count on his Instagram account has gone from “more than 10,000” to 16,000 followers presently since October 2018, when he disputed Dr Liew’s version of the race event.  

“I put it to you that you published the defamatory posts with the intention of getting more followers on social media,” the lawyer said. “You used Ashley’s publicity to benefit yourself.” 

Mr Soh rebutted that this was “absolutely, absolutely untrue” and that there is “no logic behind that statement”.

He said: “Talking about Ashley is not going to gain me any followers. It’s caused me more controversy and hurt. There’s no good that comes out of it. 

“I have achieved a certain level of recognition based on (national) records, not on Ashley Liew… You’re telling me I’m famous, thank you, but I am telling you the facts.”

Mr Soh added: “I’m sorry you think that way because it is completely misguided and not true… The reason that I am doing this is to stand up for the truth.” 

Mr Teng also asked Mr Soh whether he was paid for some of the sponsored content that he put up on his Instagram and Facebook pages. 

Mr Soh, who has about 10,000 followers on Facebook, said that he was paid, but it had nothing to do with his follower count.

Mr Teng then asked Mr Soh if his appointed role as a sports ambassador for travel and lifestyle site TheSmartLocal in November 2018 helped to raise his standing on social media, to which Mr Soh agreed. 

A MATTER OF MINUTES

In October 2018, the International Fair Play Committee put up a Facebook post congratulating Dr Liew for his act of sportsmanship during the 2015 race.

Mr Soh then commented on the post that the runners who had fallen behind had taken “quite a while to catch up to him (at least one to two minutes), he certainly did not stop or slow down to wait for us whatsoever.”  

Mr Teng told the court that on Jan 29 this year, Mr Soh edited the comment such that it now reads “about seven minutes” instead of “at least one to two minutes”. 

Mr Teng said Dr Liew testified earlier that it had taken an estimated 2min 30sec to 2min 45sec for the other runners to catch up to him. 

The edited timing by Mr Soh — which was made before he submitted his court papers on Feb 21 — was done to make the comment consistent with his own affidavit, which states that it had taken him about seven minutes to bridge the gap between him and Dr Liew during the race, Mr Teng said. 

“Let me suggest to you that you made up this fabulous tale. You edited your Facebook comment so that the evidence will be consistent in saying that you took seven minutes to catch up to Ashley.” 

Mr Soh replied: “I disagree, but I can see how you would try to use that to destroy my credibility.” 

He added that “at least one to two minutes” can also be read as seven minutes, and that the facts still remained. 

The trial continues on Sept 24. 

Related topics

Ashley Liew Soh Rui Yong defamation SEA Games court

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