Socialite Jamie Chua withdraws anti-harassment suit against business partner

Socialite Jamie Chua has obtained protection orders against 58 netizens, barring them from making personal attacks against her. PHOTO: JAMIE CHUA
Socialite Jamie Chua has obtained protection orders against 58 netizens, barring them from making personal attacks against her. PHOTO: JAMIE CHUA

SINGAPORE - Socialite Jamie Chua has withdrawn an application for an anti-harassment protection order against business partner Sharon Tang, who had posted a photo of a wreath she received on her birthday.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 Harrassment 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, first made the news at age 20 when she married Indonesian tycoon Nurdian Cuaca after three years as an air stewardess with Singapore Airlines.

She 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. That same year, her divorce was widely covered after she sought $450,000 a month in maintenance. 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 on Wednesday (Jan 18) 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 this was after she ticked off Ms Tang for allegedly using her name to obtain freebies from sponsors.

The online attacks allegedly started in February 2016, after Ms Tang uploaded a photo on her Instagram 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 an expedited Protection Orders against 65 people, who included a Sunny Tan, a friend of her boyfriend.

In her affidavit, Ms Chua said the "acts of harrassment" 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 protection order may amount to a criminal offence.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday (Jan 18), Ms Chua said she dropped the case on 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..."

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