Man who posted doctored headline on Facebook: "Please forgive me!"

A man who had uploaded a photo of a doctored headline on Facebook has issued a public apology.

38-year-old Neo Aik Chau's original post with a modified headline of Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao suggested that a lawyer from the People's Action Party (PAP) had "saved" the six people accused in the City Harvest Church case from harsher sentences.

Writing in Chinese, he said in a Facebook post, "I'm sorry! Please forgive me!"

He added that he had fairness and justice in mind but "spoke frankly without thinking".

The Straits Times reported that in a separate post in a Facebook group, he said he was only expressing a personal opinion and not scandalising the court.

The apology comes after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 5) that the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) considers the Facebook post of the doctored article a case of contempt by scandalising the courts.

Later the same day, the AGC said in a statement that contempt of court in its various forms harms the proper administration of justice in Singapore, and that it would take firm action against such instances.

Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News, reported on Tuesday (Feb 6) that Mr Neo said he was intrigued by coffee-shop chatter over the City Harvest verdict.

"I was feeling inspired. Using a mobile application, I wrote a new headline," he told the newspaper. "I'd only meant to put it on the Facebook group as a talking point, and did not have malicious intent. I didn't think it would be reposted."

While his online apologies did not mention Mr Shanmugam or the AGC, they attracted comments referencing fake news and the Home Affairs Ministry within hours of their publication.

User William Lee wrote in Chinese it was "sad" that Mr Neo had to apologise for speaking his mind, adding: "If one does not work in the news industry, how does it draw the label of fake news?"

Lianhe Wanbao editor Goh Sin Teck, who is also editor of Chinese morning daily Lianhe Zaobao, said on Feb 5 the paper handles news in a serious and responsible manner.

"However, our news headline was spoofed by others," he added. "This is definitely not creativity and is a type of behaviour with malicious intent, attempting to mislead the public. It should be condemned."

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