Writer apologises to FAS for online comments

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

In a Facebook post entitled "Apology and undertaking by Suresh Nair" on Wednesday, Nair drew attention to three articles that he wrote and were published online on June 22 last year.

The articles in question referred 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 his post on Wednesday that his earlier allegations 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 allegations, verbally or in writing.

In August last year, The New Paper reported that the FAS had filed a defamation suit against Nair, with the case going up to the High Court, which 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 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."

Nair, a refereeing instructor and former journalist, had initially refused to retract his statements and instead offered to clear the air with a "heart-to-heart meeting". 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allegations made in the article had absolutely no truth or basis whatsoever, and has unreservedly and unconditionally withdrawn them," said the FAS.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."

Shamir Osman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'Writer apologises to FAS for online comments'. Print Edition | Subscribe