Doctor's captions on YouTube videos of spat spark harassment case

What began as a petrol station spat between two men has escalated into an anti-harassment case involving YouTube videos.

A district court yesterday ordered Dr K. Paramesvaran, who is better known as Dr Param, to remove the captions he had put into two videos that he uploaded detailing his run-in with Frenchman Yannick Pierre Yves Le Borgne at a Caltex station last April.

The order is an interim one until the case is settled in court.

This is believed to be the first time that a court has issued an expedited protection order (EPO) under the Protection from Harassment Act, landmark legislation passed last year which, among other things, seeks to curb online harassment.

Unlike a protection order, an EPO is issued on a temporary basis to prevent further alleged harassment until a case is settled.

The court has also ordered that the captions cannot be printed by any other parties.

The videos seem to have been taken from closed-circuit television footage at a petrol station in the Holland Road area.

In one 6.5-minute video, Dr Param, managing director of Medical Imaging, which runs a chain of radiological clinics, is seen paying at the petrol kiosk's counter.

A Caucasian man then approaches the doctor from behind, and starts talking to him.

He points his finger several times, and is also seen patting Dr Param on the shoulder.

In another three-minute video, the 36-year-old Frenchman is seen stopping his car alongside that of Dr Param's as he is pumping air into his tyres. He steps out of the car and again gesticulates towards Dr Param and engages him in some kind of argument.

It is unclear what started the spat but the entire episode seems to have left Dr Param aggrieved.

He lodged a Magistrate's Complaint shortly after the incident and the case was probed by the police as a case of intentional harassment.

But last November, police informed him that after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and with advice from the Attorney-General's Chambers, no further action would be taken against Mr Yannick.

Last month, the doctor, who is in his 60s, posted the two videos to air his grievances.

Mr Yannick, who is represented by lawyer Choo Zheng Xi, claimed the text and commentary accompanying the videos, which could have gone viral, was a continuing source of harassment to him. He applied to have the text removed.

The judge ruled that the videos have to be renamed "Incident at Caltex on 20 April 2014". But Dr Param, who was defended by lawyer Foo Soon Yien, is free to state on the videos that the previous comments had been removed pending a trial.

According to the ruling, failure to obey the court's order could result in a contempt of court action or a Protection of Harassment Act offence which carries a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months.

Responding to queries, a State Courts spokesman said yesterday that since the new Act came into force last Nov 15 till Jan 7 this year, there have been 79 Magistrate's Complaints for harassment.

There were also 13 applications for Protection Orders under Originating Summons.

Magistrate's Complaints relate to criminal cases while Originating Summons are civil remedies.

Three Protection Orders have been issued by the State Courts, and the remainder of the cases are ongoing, she added.

vijayan@sph.com.sg