No one is really talking to us, says BooksActually owner's ex-wife, Renee Ting

SINGAPORE - The ex-wife of disgraced BooksActually owner Kenny Leck has spoken out for the first time since a viral expose on his alleged misconduct upended Singapore's literary scene.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Sept 30), Ms Renee Ting said she feels that "people are talking around us, but no one is really talking to us".

In the article published by Rice Media last Saturday, Ms Ting and other former employees of the bookstore alleged that Mr Leck had made romantic advances towards young female staff, including while he was married to Ms Ting.

They also described working long hours without designated breaks and being paid little and sometimes late.

Ms Ting, who started working at the bookstore when she was 19 in 2011 and was in a relationship with Mr Leck for six years, said she drew no salary while they were dating, lived in the store and had hardly any days off.

Mr Leck has denied the allegations and said he will transfer ownership of the store and its publishing arm Math Paper Press to his five current employees.

Ms Ting wrote in her post: "It has only been six days, and that's hardly enough time for anyone to process something as large, difficult, overwhelming, emotional and heavy as this. Much less me, Slowpoke Antonio."

Slowpoke Antonio is a character from the cartoon Tom And Jerry Kids.

Ms Ting, who has declined to speak to the media, said in the past few days, it seemed "everyone's first impulse was to rush in, fix, explain, resolve and restore".

She criticised the rush to make statements without pausing to ask the women who spoke up how they were doing, what they needed and what would be helpful for them.

She said: "It feels like we finally worked up the courage to tell a friend about something traumatic that happened to us so many years ago, and the friend's first reaction is, 'Oh, s***. How does this affect me?

"'Where do I stand in all of this? This person and place are so important and have helped me and so many other people. This person is my friend too. How can we help him? How can we help him be better? Okay, yes I know you're hurting but let's not focus on that. How do we move forward? How do we move forward? How do we move forward?'"

Ms Ting added that many have contacted her to share similar experiences in their workplaces and lives which they are afraid to speak of even privately because "the world is so loud and our voices feel so small".

She said: "It has taken a lot for us to trust you with our stories, we ask that you hold them kindly, gently. Be there. Be present. Hold space. Where you fit in all this is important too, yes. But if you know someone who is a survivor, someone who has been harmed, please prioritise them.

"They have carried enough."