If all else fails, sex sells.
Rice Media certainly was going for record-breaking viewership when they published what we think is by far, the most detailed first person account of supposed victims of Eden Ang.
Rice Media definitely got a scoop here, with first-hand account from “Dawn” (not her real name), screenshots from one other “Sheryl” (also not her real name), as well as what Lilith (the first who broke the silence over social media) shared over a phone interview.
What is discomforting of the article, other than the click-bait headline and overly-graphic descriptions of what Eden Ang did to “Dawn” was the fact that the case had not been brought before the courts. At the time of publishing, the entire account was one-sided, very much like an article from the likes of magazines like Her World and People Magazine. One of those “true life account” stories that typically drives readership.
With the #MeToo movement, and the likes of Harvey Weinstein being outed, it seems like women are being encouraged to speak up.
The problem here though is that while “Dawn” has made her police report just a few days ago, Lilith report was lodged in January. So the case has not yet gone to trial. Yet, their side of the story has come out, and so has things like screenshots of conversations. These are potentially evidence for use in court should the case go to trial, if there is indeed a case strong enough for it.
Before then, in the eyes of the Singapore law, Eden Ang is innocent until proven guilty.
Rice Media’s piece however seeks to do the contrary – putting forth the details to grab public attention, trigger public discussions and, more problematically, lead a “trial by social media”. And this “trial” is not just of Eden Ang, but also of the women at the centre of this drama.
The women have been called names and discussions about how one can be stupid/foolish, comments about how they were willing parties, comments that are not remotely nice. Of course, there are nasty comments hurled at Eden Ang too.
The law has to be equal for both the victims and the accused, but in this case, the trial by media had already skewed perceptions. Would Rice Media’s piece then be akin to committing sub judice?
Now, supposedly the case goes to trial, and for whatever reason, Eden Ang is found not guilty, and he walks free, then what gives? Can Eden Ang then turn around and sue Rice Media for libel, causing emotional distress, damage to reputation, or whatever you can think of, for this article and the conversations it sparked?
Whether we think Eden Ang is guilty or not is beside the point. Our verdict does not matter. Only that of the court’s matter. Claims of sexual assault/rape are serious charges, and carrying heavy penalties, including caning in Singapore. However, we must bear in mind that such cases are difficult for the prosecution to mount a good case, especially if the case took place some years ago and therefore there may well be no forensic evidence to lend weight to the prosecution’s case. At the same time, the testimonies of the victim could backfire in her face should the defence paint her as an attention-craving, promiscuous girl who was getting back at the accused due to unrequited love or who cried rape after she changed her mind about having a sexual relationship with the accused. Whatever the case, do not expect the defence to cut any slack.
In a “he says, she says” situation like this, the only outcome is unnecessary judgements passed by people who do not have a complete picture of what really happened, and a media outlet who gains popularity for enterprisingly riding on the #MeToo wave without the burden of the need to be responsible in their reporting. Only they know what their real agenda is, but is this the type of media that we truly want/need in Singapore? Ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves, rather than blindly follow a trend that is happening overseas.