Soh Rui Yong Offers to Drop His Defamation Lawsuit Against Sports Athletics Director ‘Cus It’s ‘Not Good for Sports’

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In the defamation lawsuit against former Executive Director of Singapore Athletics (SA) Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied, national marathoner Soh Rui Yong has extended an offer to withdraw his lawsuit after Malik testified and admitted that the alleged defamatory statements he made were not “in good taste”.

Soh made the offer through his lawyer Gerard Quek on Monday (17 Jan), the fifth day of the ongoing civil trial in State Courts.

However, the olive branch was neither accepted nor rejected by Malik, but Lawyer Mahmood Gaznavi has told The Straits Times that his client is unlikely to take up the offer.

Hence, the defamation lawsuit shall continue to its bitter end.

Initial Cause of the Lawsuit

After Soh was rejected from Team Singapore for the 2019 SEA Games in 2019, Malik had posted a photograph of himself with two children.

In the caption, he wrote that he hoped one of the children could take up the 400m hurdles event and said that they should be careful of the marathon, lest it “ends up messing with your mind and heart.”

In a separate comment, he had stated that “one particular runner so far” and the marathons had taken away this individual’s ability for “empathy, compassion, and the capability to love others.”

These Facebook posts had been deleted within the day of its posting.

Though no names were explicitly mentioned, it can be assumed that it was directed to Soh, especially since he was in the middle of a defamation lawsuit that his Singapore teammate Ashley Liew filed against him back then.

On Friday’s hearing (14 Jan), Malik had agreed with Quek’s assertion that he had made those posts “impulsively” and “without carefully considering meanings of each of the words he posted”.

Malik even went as far as concurring that it framed the athlete in a negative and unappealing image.

Soh’s Response

Despite being grilled on the court stand by Malik’s defence layer Mahmood Gaznavi during the five-and-a-half-hour court session on 12 Jan which ultimately tried to paint Soh’s previous conduct in an “unreasonable” light, Soh still felt vindicated by Malik’s admittance to the alleged defamatory remarks.

This, in turn, led Soh to telling Mr Quek to make an offer to resolve this matter because he was “satisfied with the concessions that (Malik) stated on the stand”.

The lawyer added that Soh believes that his claims have been bolstered now, but in considering the bigger picture of the Sports circle as a whole, it was not necessary or good for sports or the athletics fraternity to continue this lawsuit further.

Soh has no desire to put prominent figures in Singapore sports through the miserable experience of being cross-examined because he holds them in great esteem. Additionally, it would save the honourable court’s time.

The terms of resolution include Soh discontinuing the suit within five working days upon accepting the offers, and both parties agreeing that no order should be made for the costs of ending the suit.


Alas, when District Judge Lim Wee Ming asked for Lawyer Gaznavi’s views, the defence lawyer stated that there were written correspondences and they were prepared to continue with the trial.

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Singapore Athletics President Tang Weng Fei Takes to the Stand

For quick context, Mr Tang had served as SA’s President from 2006 to 2006, 2010 to 2016, and 2018 to 2020.

The main reason why he had taken up and subsequently stepped down from the position numerous times was because of his business commitments in between his tenure.

When Mr Tang was questioned if he was aware of the infighting and/or mismanagement within SA, Tang told the court he was aware that there were problems riddling SA but not of the specifics.

He then disagreed that it had been SA’s failure to support Team Singapore athletes which led to a negative impact on their performance in the 2017 SEA Games, wherein the country only won two out of 45 possible gold medals.

Soh’s counsel Mr Quek continued to inquire if it was fair to say that several athletes, including his client, had felt disappointed with the SA during the Games, but Tang declined to comment because he was “not privy to any matters”.


How convenient.

In Tang’s written affidavit—a written statement from an individual which is sworn to be true and used along with witness testimonies—, Tang agreed with Malik and Gaznavi’s claims that Soh had “behaved in an illogical manner”.

For instance, there had been several media interviews where he spoke about the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) which had not been approved by SA beforehand.

Soh had even made a blog post in open criticism of SNOC on 18 August 2019, titled “SNOC has admitted to using irrelevant, subjective & extraneous criteria in 2019 SEA Games selection”, which he has taken down very recently.

Another point of contention brought up in the affidavit was Soh posting a photo of his personal sponsor during the 2019 Taiwan Open.


The SNOC regulation in question concerns a “blackout” period, which forbids athletes from promoting their personal sponsors on social media during specific major competitions like the Olympics.

However, mr Tang has conceded on the stand that the particular stint was not a breach of SNOC regulations, and Soh has otherwise kept to the rule, even if he has expressed difficulties in keeping up his sponsorship requirements because of said rule.

Contrasting Statements

In the continuation of the questioning, Quek asked Tang if an individual is allowed to express their opinions if they truly believed it, to which Tang said: “In the case of Mr Soh, many times has he gone above the line.”

This statement falls in line with Lawyer Gaznavi’s constant iterations of Soh’s questionable past conduct, like his disrespect for his teammates, the breaches in the Athlete Code of Conduct, and his inability to accept the counselling of SA to become a better national athlete.

In contrast to Malik’s defamatory comments, Tang then states that Malik has always fought for Soh during SA management meetings, whenever they discussed what should be done to improve Soh’s general conduct.


Tang claims that Malik would proactively state that Soh should be given a second chance to change because he was a talented athlete.

“The word ‘counsel’ was used during the meeting,” Mr Tang said, “We were hopeful he would change, [become] a better athlete.”

To the end of counselling though, Soh denies having been counselled, or being told that the objective of the April meeting had been for the sake of counselling.

When Mr Quek questioned why Malik would fight for his client, Mr Tang replied by saying that he didn’t know twice.

Continuation of the Defamation Lawsuit

However, since Malik has chosen to rebuff Soh’s offer of reconciliation through his Lawyer Gaznavi, the trial is set to resume on an undetermined date.


Other prominent figures like the former SA Vice-President Ang Peng Siong and the SNOC are lined up to testify for the defence. 

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Featured Images: Singapore Athletic Association & Instagram (@runsofast)

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