Football: Journalist Suresh Nair sorry for defamatory articles, FAS accepts apology

Freelance journalist Suresh Nair has agreed to pay damages and legal costs to the Football Association of Singapore. PHOTO: SURESH NAIR

SINGAPORE - Freelance writer Suresh Nair has issued a formal apology to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for three articles that contain defamatory comments.

In a Facebook entitled "Apology and undertaking by Suresh Nair" posted on Wednesday (May 16), Nair drew attention to three articles that he was responsible for that were published on June 22, 2017.

The articles in question were in reference to the announcement of the stepping down of former Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra on June 21, 2017. They appeared on Nair's Facebook page as well as on socio-political website The Independent and Malaysian sports news website Sports247my.

He said in the post that the allegations made in those articles were "untrue and baseless", acknowledging the embarrassment and damage that they caused the FAS.

"I hereby unreservedly and unconditionally withdraw these allegations and apologise to the FAS," read the statement, with Nair adding that he will not repeat the similar allegations whether verbally or in writing.

In August 2017, The New Paper reported that the FAS launched a defamation suit against Nair, with the case going up to the High Court. Under its jurisdiction, the High Court hears civil cases where the claim exceeds $250,000.

But Nair was made to pay only $2 in damages to the FAS, and an additional $2 in legal costs.

"Given Mr. Nair's apology and unconditional retraction, the FAS offered for Mr. Nair to pay only nominal amounts of damages and costs, at $2 each. Mr. Nair accepted this,"said the FAS in a statement.

"This is not about seeking damages. While the FAS accepts criticism, baseless allegations which impugn on the integrity of certain members or the collective must be met to allow the FAS to function with the confidence of the public and other important stakeholders."

In a media statement that appeared in a report in The Straits Times on June 25, 2017, FAS president Lim Kia Tong said: "In his article, he makes a very serious allegation...His claim is false and baseless and is written to intentionally smear the reputation of the FAS and its leadership."

Nair, a refereeing instructor and former journalist, had initially refused to retract his statements, instead offering to clear the air with a "heart-to-heart meeting".

Nair was put forward as an independent candidate at the FAS election in April 2017, but his nomination did not pass the requisite eligibility checks of the FAS ad hoc electoral committee.

His apology was welcomed by the FAS.

"We are happy that Mr. Nair has now accepted that the allegations made in the article had absolutely no truth or basis whatsoever, and has unreservedly and unconditionally withdrawn them," said the FAS.

"We now consider the matter closed."

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