It's all because they had published, sometime in 2006, a link to someone's article. That person (Gecko) had blogged about his unhappiness about a certain time share company known as Grand Seasons International.
So now Grand Seasons International has sent a lawyer's letter to Tomorrow.sg.
Just to protect myself, I shall first say here that I do not know anything about Grand Seasons International (which is true). I do not know Gecko personally (which is true). I have not spoken to any Tomorrow editor about this matter (which is also true).
Thus I am unable to verify, and I do not know, and I do not assert, and I shall not be taken to have asserted, that GSI, or Gecko, or the Tomorrow editors, has said or has not said, or are saying or are not saying, anything that is true or false.
I shall only say that (1) if you run a retail business, and (2) members of the public have negative feedback about you (whether true or false or accurate or inaccurate), and (3) your response is to threaten them with legal action, then ....
.... well, well, maybe you should rethink your PR policies. Because this kind of behaviour is unlikely to endear you to your potential customers.
While we're on this topic, I wish to comment generally on the topic of consumer rights in Singapore. My further commentary is without reference to any specific companies or individuals. It is just a general explanation of the law in Singapore.
Under Singapore laws, there is a relatively new piece of legislation known as the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.
If you, as a consumer, feel that you have been the victim of an "unfair practice", then you may have a right to take legal action under this Act. Naturally, if you can find other consumers who have been the victims of the same "unfair practice" by the same perpetrator, and you all go to court together, your case will be very strong.
Section 4 of the Act explains what an unfair practice is:
"It is an unfair practice for a supplier, in relation to a consumer transaction —The Second Schedule goes on to spell out a long list of practices that could constitute an "unfair practice". Since this list is very long (a total of 20), for the sake of brevity, I'll just highlight a few:
(a) to do or say anything, or omit to do or say anything, if as a result a consumer might reasonably be deceived or misled;
(b) to make a false claim;
(c) to take advantage of a consumer if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the consumer —
(i) is not in a position to protect his own interests; or
(ii) is not reasonably able to understand the character, nature, language or effect of the transaction or any matter related to the transaction; or
(d) without limiting the generality of paragraphs (a) to (c), to do anything specified in the Second Schedule."
SPECIFIC UNFAIR PRACTICESTo know more about the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, you can click here. The full text of the Act is downloadable from here.
7. Representing that a price benefit or advantage exists respecting goods or services where the price benefit or advantage does not exist.
9. Representing that a transaction involving goods or services involves or does not involve rights, remedies or obligations where that representation is deceptive or misleading.
11. Taking advantage of a consumer by including in an agreement terms or conditions that are harsh, oppressive or excessively one-sided so as to be unconscionable.
12. Taking advantage of a consumer by exerting undue pressure or undue influence on the consumer to enter into a transaction involving goods or services.
17. Offering gifts, prizes or other free items in connection with the supply of goods or services if the supplier knows or ought to know that the items will not be provided or provided as offered.
20. Using small print to conceal a material fact from the consumer or to mislead a consumer as to a material fact, in connection with the supply of goods or services.