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Ashley Liew didn’t correct misperceptions, account of events during SEA Games race ‘utterly unreliable’: Lawyer

SINGAPORE — Athlete Ashley Liew was interrogated about his account of a marathon race in 2015 that fellow runner Soh Rui Yong is disputing, as a hearing for a civil lawsuit between the two Singaporean sporting personalities continued on Wednesday (Sept 2). Mr Clarence Lun from Foxwood LLC, who leads the legal team for Mr Soh, tried to pin Dr Liew down by saying he was seeking glory for himself. He also sought to tear apart Dr Liew’s recollection of the event and cast aspersions on his credibility.

Ashley Liew didn’t correct misperceptions, account of events during SEA Games race ‘utterly unreliable’: Lawyer

Athlete Ashley Liew arriving at the State Courts on Sept 2, 2020. He is suing fellow runner Soh Rui Yong for defamation.

  • Lawyer Clarence Lun said athlete Ashley Liew had given misleading accounts to the public of a 2015 SEA Games marathon race
  • Mr Lun said Dr Liew did this to “glorify” himself
  • The runner denied these assertions
  • He also had to answer questions about the distance it took for the runners to catch up with him during the race 

 

SINGAPORE — Athlete Ashley Liew was interrogated about his account of a marathon race in 2015 that fellow runner Soh Rui Yong is disputing, as a hearing for a civil lawsuit between the two Singaporean sporting personalities continued on Wednesday (Sept 2).

Mr Clarence Lun from Foxwood LLC, who leads the legal team for Mr Soh, tried to pin Dr Liew down by saying he was seeking glory for himself. He also sought to tear apart Dr Liew’s recollection of the event and cast aspersions on his credibility. 

During the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games event in 2015, Dr Liew found himself leading a 12-runner race in the men’s marathon after his rivals missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. He then said that he slowed down in order to wait for them to catch up — an act that Mr Soh, 29, has publicly disputed several times on social media.

Dr Liew, 34, who is also a doctor of chiropractic at the Family Health Chiropractic Clinic, is now seeking S$120,000 in damages for defamation.

On Wednesday, Mr Lun asserted that Dr Liew’s account was “utterly unreliable” and should be taken with a pinch of salt, a charge that the athlete denied.  

Mr Lun mentioned several examples where the accounts Dr Liew gave to the public did not gel with what he had provided to the court.

One of them was a 2018 speech at his alma mater, Anglo Chinese Junior College, in which he said that he had “asked the runners left and right if they were okay” when they caught up with him, before he gave the thumbs-up and resumed the race.

When asked to elaborate on what he had said to the other runners, Dr Liew replied that he had not said anything, but gestured instead. 

Mr Lun said that this was inconsistent since the word “asked” had been used, to which Dr Liew said he meant by way of gesture.

“Anyone who attended this speech of yours would have thought you went around asking (and not gesturing),” Mr Lun said.

The lawyer also brought up an interview with Mediacorp’s The 5 Show in June 2015, in which the host had said that Dr Liew "slowed down to a crawl" and that "cost him the gold medal".

Mr Lun then reminded Dr Liew that he gave evidence on Tuesday that he stood a better chance of getting a bronze medal instead.

When asked why he did not correct the host Yasminne Cheng, Dr Liew said on Wednesday that he did not feel the need to correct a seasoned presenter on live television especially when it could be seen by someone as true.

Dr Liew further explained that runners all have a “quiet confidence” and that winning a gold medal was not something they ruled out.

Mr Lun suggested that this could have affected the public’s perception that Dr Liew’s act of sportsmanship had cost him a gold medal, and Dr Liew replied that he could not control how the public felt.

Dr Liew’s purported act of good sportsmanship for that race led to the International Fair Play Committee calling him a role model for fair play. He also won the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy — a global prize for good sportsmanship.

Mr Lun put it to the court that there is only “one hypothesis” for why Dr Liew did not correct any misperceptions: The runner wanted to “glorify” himself.

“You were looking for a catalyst to fan your fame,” the lawyer said. “Ashley, I am putting it to you that you love to blow your own trumpet.”

Dr Liew disagreed with this. 

At various points during the hearing, Dr Liew’s lawyer, Mr Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, objected to Mr Lun’s line of questioning, saying they were not relevant. 

District Judge Lee Li Choon, however, allowed Mr Lun’s questions.

Mr Lun explained that credibility is key in discerning “which parties are telling the truth”, and he was of the view that Dr Liew was lying. 

A large part of the hearing was also spent trying to ascertain the estimated distance it took for the runners to catch up with Dr Liew, who was unable to give a precise distance because he was not wearing a watch with a global positioning system (GPS).

Dr Liew said that his act of fair play ended around the 700m mark after the U-turn incident when 10 other runners, including Mr Soh, had caught up with him. He reckoned this took between 2min 30sec and 2min 45sec. 

Another runner, Cambodia’s Kuniaki Takizaki, had already gone past him by this point and was not part of the pack.

District Judge Lee said that while she acknowledged Dr Liew had mentioned the 700m as an estimate, she was concerned that he may have overestimated it.

Dr Liew recalled that 10 runners caught up with him near a clearing along East Coast Park, and with the aid of Google Maps, it was eventually settled by the lawyers from both sides and the judge that the runners covered between 500m and 700m before they caught up with Dr Liew.  

The trial continues on Thursday and the defence will continue their cross-examination of Dr Liew. Mr Soh, who has not been present, is scheduled to take his turn in the witness box on Sept 10.

The court is also expected to hear Mr Takizaki's version of the events next week, and his testimony will be given remotely via video.

Related topics

Ashley Liew Soh Rui Yong marathon defamation court

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