Athletics: Soh's comments and posts put me in 'very negative light', says marathoner Liew

Ashley Liew (left) said Soh Rui Yong's comments prompted him to send a legal letter to his former teammate in July last year as a "last resort".
Ashley Liew (left) said Soh Rui Yong's comments prompted him to send a legal letter to his former teammate in July last year as a "last resort".PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Marathoner Ashley Liew, in a reply to a question by Soh Rui Yong’s lawyer, told the court on Thursday (Sept 3) that his former teammate’s “numerous comments, blog posts” disputing Liew’s act of sportsmanship at the 2015 SEA Games marathon had cast him in a “very negative light”.

This prompted him to, as a last resort, send a legal letter and a clarification in The Straits Times. Soh’s lawyer, Clarence Lun, had asked Liew during his cross examination why he had sent a legal letter in July 2019 and why he had “confronted ST to make the clarification statement”. 

Soh had in October 2018 accused Liew of lying about the incident that occurred at the marathon final, where the latter said he had slowed down to allow other runners to catch up after they missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. His actions subsequently earned him two sportsmanship awards.

Back in court for the third day of his defamation suit against Soh, Liew on Thursday (Sept 3) that he had initially decided to let the latter's allegations slide when they first surfaced in Soh's blog post on June 22, 2015. The two-time SEA Games marathon champion had then written that "Nobody slowed down to wait - the race was on".

Lun, who noted that Liew had on Tuesday said that Soh's allegations were unprovoked, said: "It's not a belated attempt where in 2018 he came out to attack you ... it was already contemporaneous in his blog post."

Liew, who is represented by Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, replied: "It's unprovoked because I had let this slide. I decided to let this slide out of grace and out of trying to be the better man. I'm not confrontational and if (Soh) chose to put it on his blog post it did upset me, but I didn't think too much about it at that point in time."

Lun then questioned why Liew said in a legal reply to Soh last July that he "never stated or claimed or otherwise represented" his act "could have cost him a medal". This was reported by The Straits Times then.

Liew replied that the posts had cast him in a negative light, adding that from his understanding of Soh, he shares some of the facts on social media but "maybe not all of it".

"I felt hurt, I felt that finally it was time as a last resort to send a legal letter and (make) a clarification in The Straits Times. This was not something I wanted to do. I got married on Aug 3 last year and I cannot tell you how much stress that caused me and my wife during that period."

Grilling Liew on the awards, Lun said "the whole of Singapore" knows of him because of the awards he won, to which the former disagreed, twice.

 
 
 

Lun added: "You're saying you're famous before this award."

Liew replied: "No, that's not what I'm saying ... I hope I'm remembered not just for my awards, because awards are not something that define me."

The trial continues next Tuesday, with Cambodia's Kuniaki Takizaki - Liew's witness who was one of the runners who competed in the marathon final - expected to testify via video . Soh is also expected to give his testimony in court next week.

Clarification note: In our report “Legal letter to Soh sent as a last resort: Liew” published on Sept 4, we said marathoner Ashley Liew
explained why he sent a legal letter in July 2019.  We should have said: Marathoner Ashley Liew, in a reply to a question by Soh Rui Yong’s lawyer, told the court on Thursday (Sept 3) that his former teammate’s “numerous comments, blog posts” disputing Liew’s act of sportsmanship at the 2015 SEA Games marathon had cast him in a “very negative light”. This prompted him to, as a last resort, send a legal letter and a clarification in The Straits Times. Soh’s lawyer, Clarence Lun, had asked Liew during his cross examination why he had sent a legal letter in July 2019 and why he had “confronted ST to make the clarification statement”.