Socialite drops protection order bid

Above: Ms Chua, seen here in a photo from last year, says she withdrew the application against Ms Tang (right) of her own accord and that she just hoped "to move on" after the incident.
Above: Ms Chua, seen here in a photo from last year, says she withdrew the application against Ms Tang of her own accord and that she just hoped "to move on" after the incident.PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, THE CLOSET RAIDER
Above: Ms Chua, seen here in a photo from last year, says she withdrew the application against Ms Tang (right) of her own accord and that she just hoped "to move on" after the incident.
Ms Chua, seen here in a photo from last year, says she withdrew the application against Ms Tang (above) of her own accord and that she just hoped "to move on" after the incident.PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, THE CLOSET RAIDER

Jamie Chua had sought court order against harassment by business partner Sharon Tang after falling out last year

Socialite Jamie Chua has withdrawn an application for an anti-harassment protection order against business partner Sharon Tang, who had posted a photo of a wreath she received on her birthday.

The photo on social media platform Instagram sparked "hateful" comments from netizens over several weeks last year, some of which went as far as to threaten violence against her family, Ms Chua claims.

Ms Chua, 43, has also dropped applications for similar orders against six others, though she still has protection orders against 58 netizens, mostly anonymous users, barring them from making personal attacks against her.

The court order, made under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), prohibits them from posting "threatening, abusive or insulting words" towards Ms Chua. The order also allows her to retrieve details of the users from Instagram if such comments are made.

Ms Chua, who describes herself as a celebrity influencer and brand ambassador, was thrust into the spotlight in 2011, when her divorce from Indonesian tycoon Nurdian Cuaca was widely covered after she sought $450,000 a month in maintenance. She had married at age 20 and left her job as an air stewardess with Singapore Airlines.

She also opened the first Manolo Blahnik shoe boutique in South-east Asia at the Hilton Hotel in 2007, and another in Marina Bay Sands in 2010. The stores closed in 2011, but she remained a fixture at society dos. She has been profiled often for her multimillion-dollar closets, which include about 200 Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags, and double-digit carat diamond accessories.

She and Ms Tang, 38, are the co-founders of Closet Raider, an online listing platform for buying and selling second-hand luxury goods.

According to court documents seen yesterday by The Straits Times, the pair had a falling out in the month leading up to the Instagram post. Ms Chua alleged in her affidavit that this was after she ticked off Ms Tang for allegedly using her name to obtain freebies from sponsors.

The online attacks allegedly started last February, after Ms Tang uploaded a photo on her Instagram account showing a wreath being delivered to her residence on her birthday. Ms Tang, in the caption, wrote: "Some malicious people actually sent wreath to my place instead of wishing me Happy Birthday."

At the time, Ms Tang had about 21,000 followers. Netizens left "abusive and threatening" comments on the photo against Ms Chua, with some hinting that she was responsible for sending the wreath. Comments targeting Ms Chua's boyfriend, two children and businesses were also made on her Instagram profile, which currently has more than 400,000 followers. A month later, Ms Chua applied for expedited protection orders against 65 people, who included Mr Sunny Tan, a friend of her boyfriend.

In her affidavit, Ms Chua said the "acts of harassment" caused her "many sleepless nights and episodes of extreme mood swings".

In April, the court approved the orders against 58 of them, who were known only by their Instagram usernames, while the seven others entered mediation and negotiations with Ms Chua.

In September, she withdrew applications against six of them - mostly close friends of Mr Tan or Ms Tang - after reaching a private settlement. Early this month, she ceased her action against Ms Tang. Ms Chua has been ordered to pay $7,500 in legal costs to Ms Tang.

Under POHA, victims may apply directly for a protection order to stop the harassing behaviour. Breaches of a protection order may amount to a criminal offence.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Ms Chua said she dropped the case of her own accord. "In the past year, all the posts have since been taken down, so there is no need to go to trial," she said. "It is not a case of who wins or loses. We just hope to move on."

In a Facebook post last Friday, Ms Tang wrote that she was "finally vindicated". She said: "I stood my ground till the very end because I was innocent..."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Socialite drops protection order bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe