Property site 99.co sacks employee who criticised Singapore on Facebook

Mr Sonny Truyen's comment on Singapore in a Facebook thread was apparently in reference to the mobile game Pokemon Go.
Mr Sonny Truyen's comment on Singapore in a Facebook thread was apparently in reference to the mobile game Pokemon Go. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Local property portal 99.co on Monday (July 11) fired an employee it hired just a week ago, after it received complaints that he had exhibited "rude behaviour" in a Facebook thread.

The employee, Mr Sonny Truyen, had written in the thread: "You can't f**king catch pokemon in this piece of f**king shit country."

He also insulted a Facebook user who responded to his comment.

Mr Truyen, who stated in his Facebook profile that he is from Australia, was apparently referencing the popular mobile game Pokemon Go, which is not yet available in Singapore.

His behaviour provoked the anger of netizens on social media and in local forum Hardwarezone.

In a statement to online news website Mashable, Mr Truyen wrote: “It was a **** move on my behalf and a very big error in judgment to negatively label an entire country over Pokemon. It was very wrong of me to rage like that.”

But he added: “It was disappointing the lengths Singaporeans went to attack me and deny any chance of making amends for my actions.”

In a blog post on 99.co's website on Monday, CEO and co-founder Darius Cheung clarified that Mr Truyen was an SEO (search engine optimisation) specialist who had only started consulting with the company for a week before the incident.


99.co CEO Darius Cheung posted an apology on the company's website on Monday. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM 99.CO

As a "proud Singaporean company" that does not condone the language and behaviour shown by Mr Truyen, it has since terminated his engagement.

"I apologise on behalf of 99.co, we pride ourselves to be a principled company that celebrates values like diversity and equality," said Mr Cheung.

"We take responsibility for the public behaviour of any employee or consultant affiliated with us as a reflection of the company."

Mr Cheung's post, which was titled "An apology and an appeal", also noted that the recent influx of foreigners into Singapore has "increasingly caused resentment", and appealed for fellow Singaporeans to nip discrimination in the bud.

"I am proud to be Singaporean and believe we have one of the most diverse yet harmonious societies in the world where people not just tolerate, but embrace diversity and individual differences," he wrote.

"Besides, for a small nation like Singapore, growth is the only way to survive and the truth is we need foreigners to join us as much as the foreigners enjoy becoming part of us."

Mr Cheung, who started 99.co in 2014 to take on established competitors such as PropertyGuru, is one of Singapore's more well-known angel investors.

The property portal has attracted investment from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who appeared alongside Mr Cheung at its second-anniversary celebration in May.