100 apologies, power, and the hardest question
Writer: Lord Bobo
Published: Fri, 10 Jun 2011
Looking at what happened with @fahmi_fadzil and Blu Inc, do all Tweeters now need to be extra careful about what they say on Twitter? Can someone really get into a lot of trouble for tweeting allegedly defamatory comments about another party? What does the law provide? @Angie Ng, via email
TWITTER and other forms of social media do not exist in a vacuum. Laws do operate in cyberspace. If you defame someone, this person can take legal action against you. Defamation – unsurprisingly – is where someone says something defamatory about someone else.
If you say something on Twitter which is not true and is capable of lowering the reputation of the person or entity you are referring to, you are opening yourself to a defamation suit. The defamed person or entity usually demands a public apology or monetary damages, or both.
In @fahmi_fadzil’s case, Blu Inc viewed his tweet about them as defamatory, and settled out of court when the parties agreed that @fahmi_fadzil tweet an apology 100 times. Lord Bobo reckons the Blu Inc chaps were inspired by a combination of that opening scene in The Simpsons, where Bart is being punished for some wrongdoing or other by writing lines on a chalkboard, and that chap in Mind Your Language who used to say “thousand apologies”.
Do Tweeters need to be extra careful? Well, they should be careful, but no more careful as they would be in any other medium.
The 100-tweet apology should not stop people from speaking up and expressing themselves on Twitter. We believe in the freedom of speech, but frown a big hairy monkey frown on people who spread lies. If you defame someone, they can smack you with a lawsuit, regardless of whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, or on a blog (not the blawg though, all that stuff is 100% true).
Lord Bobo, are you surprised by the electricity tariff hike? @Kill A Watt, via email
HIS Supreme Eminenceness is rarely surprised. It is surprising how rarely Lord Bobo is surprised. Sometimes, all you have to do is look out for clues. A short while ago, the mainstream media swooned as the PM announced that the price of RON95 petrol would not be raised, because the government cares for the rakyat, bless his soul.
And then, in the blink of an eye, electricity price hike! It’s all quite predictable really.
Dear Lord Bobo, are there any questions you’ve been asked via this column which you’ve struggled to provide an answer for? @Questioner’s Questioner, via email
HIS Supreme Eminenceness is refreshed by the originality of this question! Although Lord Bobo is all-knowing, there is still room for humility. There is one particular question which has been submitted approximately 741 times since this column started.
While we are more than able to provide answers, it can be a tough task when the questioner only wants to hear answers with specific outcomes. So readers, have a look at the query below (and be warned, it’s a long ‘un!) and see if you can help.
Dear Lord Bobo, This is the 741st time I am emailing this query to you, and I really hope I will get a response. Time is running out, and I am desperate for even a hint of an answer. Please shower your munificence upon this humble soul.
I am the president of an up-and-coming company with 13 subsidiaries (we have been “up-and-coming” for some time now, and have even been overtaken by companies that were far behind us two decades ago, but that is another story). The Board is due for re-election soon.
Although there has been a lot of speculation, I’ve yet to decide on an auspicious date to call the AGM. My VP keeps bugging me to call the AGM now to get it over and done with, but I’m smart enough to know that he’s gambling on me not getting enough votes so that he can stage a coup to oust me just like I did my sleepy predecessor.
My VP and I don’t always see eye to eye, but we do make a good team. We’re currently doing this good-cop bad-cop routine on race and religion. He’s so good at being badass that he scares me sometimes – in fact I don’t even know whether he’s putting on an act anymore, or is being real.
Things at home aren’t helping with my stress level. My wife is still upset over me and my buddy’s Central East Asian road trip a few years ago – it’s unbelievable how long a woman can hold a grudge! To get even, she keeps throwing shopping tantrums overseas and partying with the Hollywood A-list on the company’s account.
It’s not as if I don’t have a lot of headaches to deal with, business-wise. My Singapore business partners keep inviting me for a booze-up, but all they really want to do is tease me some more with that Central East Asian’s Mandarin Hotel birthday photo so that I will renegotiate some of our contracts. They’ve already got me into the bad books of our great patriarch when I didn’t resurrect some winding-sea-crossing-structure project.
On top of that, I’ve got to deal with the leader of the rival faction in my company – he’s like the union head or something. I’ve thrown all kinds of scandalous rumours at him, but no one believes them anymore – I blame those MTV and reality TV shows, everyone is desensitised that even saucy scandals don’t excite them!
Anyway, this fella heads this ragtag bunch of people who are really incompatible with each other. I can identify with him to some extent – I am also heading a ragtag bunch of people who should be incompatible with each other, but I solve this with money.
But my biggest headache of all is my shareholders. They whine and whinge and complain all of the time it’s enough to make the pope smoke dope. It’s like nothing I do is ever good enough!
So what if your water supply is going to be irradiated with Thorium? Or your super-duper smart 20-As kid wasn’t given a scholarship? Or food prices have skyrocketed beyond your income? I don’t give a toss. Haven’t you been reading? I’ve got my own problems man, don’t give me yours.
Anyway, Lord Bobo, sorry if I got carried away there. My question is – when should I call this AGM to ensure that I am re-elected? @Prez