MobileStats and Online Citizen reject legal demands over Mindef claims

SINGAPORE - The co-founder of medical device company MobileStats Professor Ting Choon Meng and socio-political blog The Online Citizen (TOC) have rejected demands by the Attorney-General's Chambers that they stop making or publishing "false statements" about the Defence Ministry over the patent of a mobile medical station.

In response to the AGC on Tuesday, both parties said in separate lawyers' letters that Mindef cannot use the Protection from Harassment Act against them because the ministry does not qualify as a victim of harassment.

The letters have been posted on TOC.

Dr Ting's lawyers from Peter Low LLC said: "The Act is clearly not intended to apply to the Ministry of Defence, which has ample resources to defend itself and publicly clarify its official position via public channels."

They also noted that Mindef had clarified its position on its Cyberpioneer Facebook page and on The Straits Times.

TOC's lawyers added that invoking the Protection from Harassment Act, which came into force here last November, "would not be just and equitable".

Penalties for convictions range from a fine up to $5,000 to a jail term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

For repeat offenders, this increases to $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

The legal row between the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Dr Ting started last month.

Dr Ting alleged in a TOC report that Mindef had copied his patented concept for an emergency mobile clinic after speaking to him about it at a trade fair in 2005.

Mindef, however, replied a week later, saying it could not have infringed the patent for the vehicle since the patent was not valid in the first place. Mindef had also said earlier that if MobileStats believed it had a valid case, it should have pursued the matter with the manufacturer, Syntech Engineers, and not the end user.

jermync@sph.com.sg