An online kerfuffle over a "prize-winning" photograph that turned out to be doctored led to the winner saying sorry yesterday.
The picture, which appeared to be perfectly timed to capture a plane seen through a ladder, resulted in Mr Chay Yu Wei being declared the winner of a weekly online contest held by Nikon.
Nikon, in a post on its Facebook page, wrote: "Yu Wei chanced upon a set of ladders while on a photo-walk with his friends in Chinatown, and thought the view above would make an interesting perspective. Little did he expect to catch an airplane in midair. We'll try looking up too, Yu Wei; your shot has won you a Nikon trolley bag. Congratulations!"
The bag is worth $169.
Facebook users quickly responded to the post, and said the airplane had been digitally added to the image.
By noon yesterday, the original post had more than 10,000 likes and 10,000 shares, and had generated more than 4,000 comments - many of them scathing - and spawned countless memes.
The plane was replaced with images such as an MRT train, popular video game character Angry Bird, and comic book figure Ironman, along with sarcastic remarks.
At about 1.30pm, Nikon said on Facebook that the casual photography contest focused on the imagination and creativity of images. It added that it will be "revisiting the contest's rules and regulations".
"We sincerely apologise for the oversight on our part," it added.
The disparaging comments also made their way to Mr Chay's Instagram account, which has 375 posts and more than 1,800 followers. The account was inundated with criticism, and many people questioned his integrity. They also asked if his other pictures were fake.
Mr Chay, 27, in an e-mail reply to The Sunday Times, said he submitted the photo "as a joke". He said he felt that putting a plane in the image would make for an interesting point of view, but he did not mean to trick anyone when he uploaded it to his Instagram account.
"I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition... I'm really sorry to Nikon for disrespecting the competition," he said, adding he saw this as a "great lesson".
Mr Chay, who said he works as an "executive", also posted an apology on his Instagram account last night. He said: "Dear fellow photographers, I am sorry."
Professional photographer Tay Kay Chin, who was chief judge for contests held by Singapore Press Holdings in the past five years, said Mr Chay "has been punished enough" online for his actions.
He said: "His apology sounded sincere and detailed. He has put a lot of thought into it... In any case, this is not the kind of publicity that anyone needs. The reputational loss is enough."