If you clicked this article asking yourself who Rachel Wong is, you’ve come to the right place.
While our impression of “influencers” in Singapore may be limited to the YouTubers that we see online, there are actually other kinds of influencers out there. (I know, shocker.)
In this case, we’re talking about full-time local influencer Rachel Wong, who, according to her Instagram profile, is a “digital creator” boasting over 43,700 followers.
But more recently, instead of being known for her content on social media, Wong has been under more scrutiny for a defamation lawsuit where she sued Olivia Wu for basically calling her “The Cheater of 2020” on Instagram.
As the title suggests, she claimed that Ms Wong, 27, had cheated on her ex-husband, who is national footballer Anders Aplin, with her gym trainer, and, uh, wedding emcee.
The accusations from Ms Wu came in December 2020, after the couple got married in December 2019 and had their marriage annulled afterwards around four months later.
The couple knew each other for six years before tying the knot.
Apparently, the two women also did not know each other prior to this incident. Ms Wu is an acquaintance of Mr Aplin’s current girlfriend.
Currently, Ms Wong is seeking damages of $150,000, including aggravated damages.
High Court to Uphold Decision of Lower Court; Wong to Submit Content of Communication With the Two Men
On Tuesday (28 June), a High Court judge upheld the decision that was made previously by a lower court, which involved Ms Wong having to submit her diary entries and other content of her communication with the two men involved, namely her gym trainer and wedding emcee.
The decision was made earlier this year by a district court judge after Ms Wu requested for Ms Wong to turn over the documents which showed the correspondence between Ms Wong and both men.
In particular, Ms Wu had asked for the content of conversations that Ms Wong had with the two men from 2016 to 2020, as well as the diary entries regarding Mr Wan from 2018 to 2020.
Ms Wong had initially appealed the ruling for specific discovery to the High Court.
FYI, “specific discovery” basically means when the different parties trade their relevant documents when preparing for trial, so that you know what you’re going against lah.
However, Ms Wong’s appeal was dismissed on Tuesday (28 June) as High Court judge Choo Han Teck sided with the lower court’s decision through a five-page written judgement.
In particular, he noted that Ms Wu had “sufficiently shown” that the documents that she had requested were “relevant and material” for the trial.
How the Accusations Began
And if you’re wondering how both women ended up getting into such a big mess, here’s everything that happened from the very beginning.
As I mentioned earlier, Ms Wu’s accusations of Ms Wong’s infidelity began in December 2020.
Ms Wu, a part-time nurse for a pharmaceutical company, posted six Instagram stories on her account at that time, revealing that Ms Wong had behaved intimately with both her gym trainer and her wedding emcee.
According to Ms Wu, Ms Wong had “intimate and sexual conversations” with her gym trainer through messaging platform Telegram, even when she was dating Mr Aplin.
In addition to that, she also called Ms Wong out for having sex with the wedding emcee, Mr Alan Wan, on the night of her wedding.
And if you didn’t register anything that I’ve just said, maybe a blue cat will be able to phrase it better, so here you go (you can thank me later):
Suing of Wu and Wong’s Influencer Status
After Ms Wu’s accusations were made public, Ms Wong sued Ms Wu for defamation.
And if you’re asking why, it’s simple: Because she’s an influencer.
Since Ms Wong works as a full-time influencer on social media, it’s pretty obvious that her entire livelihood basically depends on her online reputation since she has to secure deals and partnerships to make money.
Justice Choo also acknowledged Ms Wong’s substantial following on social media, saying, “That, I suppose, entitles her, in her estimation, to be a celebrity.”
Ms Wong’s Response to Ms Wu’s Allegations
Back then, Ms Wong said in her statement of claim that her pre-wedding photoshoot with Mr Aplin was widely publicised, and that she “fully intended” to marry Mr Aplin.
According to her, she would not have engaged in such a high-profile pre-wedding photoshoot if she had not intended to do so.
She also addressed the issue regarding her having sex with Mr Wan on her wedding night.
That night, Mr Aplin had apparently passed out due to alcohol intoxication. Ms Wong, Mr Wan and another friend then helped Mr Aplin to the hotel room.
Ms Wong also claimed that she and Mr Wan were never the only people in the room at any point in time.
Ms Wu Said that Statements Were “True in Substance”
In addition to that, Ms Wong also brought up Ms Wu’s comments about her in the Instagram stories.
In particular, Ms Wu wrote that Ms Wong had ruined “more than one person’s life” and touched on her promiscuity, as well as how she was “mentally unwell” and did not have any morals.
Ms Wu also said that Ms Wong “would not pass a character check by MediaCorp”.
In response to Ms Wong’s accusations, Ms Wu then said that her comments were “true in substance”, and hence not defamatory.
Ms Wu also invoked the defence of fair comment.
Wong Also Accused Wu of Contempt of Court, But Failed
Apart from that, Ms Wong also accused Ms Wu of contempt of court after the latter did not file her affidavit, the trial testimonies for witnesses, before the deadline.
However, Ms Wu was found to be not guilty of contempt of court as “not every breach amounts to contempt”, according to the District Judge back then.
Justice Choo’s Opinions
Unclear Narrative Due to “Instagram Speak”
Justice Choo added in court that it was “essential” for the narrative of the entire incident to be clear, despite the fact that he was only in charge of ruling on the order for specific discovery.
“That, is the first challenge — the narrative is not clear. By a combination of Instagram-speak and the utter failure of counsel to translate that into English, [Ms Wong’s] statement of claim is filled with chaff,” he wrote.
FYI, “chaff” basically has the same meaning as “rubbish”, so interpret his statement (and Ms Wong’s) however you will.
Thereafter, he also touched on the details of Ms Wong’s claims and pointed out that she visited India by herself for a trip just a few days after her wedding to Mr Aplin.
After she returned to Singapore, Ms Wong applied to annul her wedding to Mr Aplin.
More Messages Submitted by Ms Wu’s Lawyer
Apart from that, the judge also highlighted the photocopies of text messages “depicting lurid details” regarding the case.
The photocopies were submitted by Gerald Quek, Ms Wu’s lawyer when he filed his application for discovery, and were apparently sent by a man by the name of Chen Xuan Han.
However, the recipient of the messages was not revealed.
Mr Quek also attached an alleged snippet of Ms Wong’s diary, which revealed her confessing her love for Mr Wan.
There was also a photograph of Ms Wong allegedly lying on Mr Wan’s chest that was submitted.
Allowing Ms Wu to Obtain Correspondence Between Ms Wong and the Two Men
Regarding the decision to let Ms Wu obtain the content of conversations between Ms Wong and the two men, as well as her relevant diary entries, Justice Choo emphasised that Ms Wu had “adequately shown” the relevance of those documents in this particular defamation case.
“From the exhibits that the defendant has produced, there is reason to believe that similar other entries may be found, and if the diaries are produced but no such entries are found, then surely that should strengthen the plaintiff’s case at trial,” he explained.
Clarence Lun, Ms Wong’s lawyer, previously objected to this arrangement by saying that Ms Wu was on a “fishing expedition” to obtain evidence.
In response to that, Justice Choo said, “In this case, samples of relevant material had been produced, and, to extend the fishing analogy just a bit more, it is not a mere fishing expedition if fish has in fact been spotted.”
Justice Choo also noted that he will examine the issue of costs in the event that Ms Wong and Ms Wu are unable to “settle it between themselves”.
Currently, the trial dates for the case have yet to be confirmed.
Afterwards, Ms Wong expressed in a statement released through her lawyer that she was “disappointed with the outcome”.
However, she still intends to continue with the lawsuit to “stand up for people who have been the subject of online abuse, harassment and defamation”.
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