TOC and lawyer Lim Tean fighting hard to protect identity of anonymous donor

The Online Citizen’s (TOC) lawyer Lim Tean in a letter addressed to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) insists that TOC has made the necessary declarations and clarifications on its funding sources and revenue model as required by the authority.

Lim Tean also accused IMDA for trying to “interfere” in TOC’s business, further asserting that IMDA’s actions “amounts to nothing more than the harassment and intimidation of (TOC) and their subscribers and would-be subscribers.”

The strongly-worded letter was published by Lim Tean on Facebook yesterday (Sep 13).

Pictured: Lim Tean’s letter

Lim Tean also included a copy of IMDA’s letter.

Pictured: IMDA letter

IMDA: TOC refused to provide evidence to prove donations did not come from a foreign source

IMDA’s letter dated 6 September 2021 and addressed to TOC’s chief editor Terry Xu noted that TOC has not “fully complied” with its obligation to furnish IMDA with information requests related to its licence.

According to IMDA:

  • TOC did not provide evidence that the funds from an anonymous donor is not from a foreign source; and
  • TOC did not clarify discrepancies in TOC’s foreign advertising revenue

Lim Tean’s response raises more suspicion

On information requests regarding donations from an anonymous donor:

While Lim Tean claims TOC already declared that the site does not receive foreign funding, both the lawyer and TOC were not forthcoming on the identity of the anonymous donor. Instead, they insisted that IMDA provide proof that it is a foreign donor.

On the contrary, IMDA’s letter did not accuse TOC that the donor is a foreigner, but merely for TOC to provide evidence that the funding from this unidentified party did not come from a foreign source – two different things.

On discrepancies in TOC’s foreign advertising revenue:

Lim Tean clarified that the discrepancies are “simple accounting mistakes”. He did not elaborate on what these mistakes were.

TOC taking a big risk to protect the identity of one donor

Who is TOC protecting?

Instead of revealing who the donor was, TOC said they are willing to donate the amount to charity. In addition, TOC said they will only comply with the licensing obligations if the subscription portion of their business is exempted from declaration.

Why risk getting shutdown by not declaring the identity of the donor to IMDA in confidence? If the donor is a Singaporean, a declaration would simply allow TOC to get on with their operations.

Or is the anonymous donor that TOC is fiercely protecting donating funds that originated from a foreign source?

Surely such bravado would only mean that whoever is behind the money trail is such an important individual that TOC is willing to sacrifice its 15 years of existence for.

On a separate note, TOC’s primary bank account is with Maybank. It is also the same account that Terry Xu uses to pay his Malaysian writers for article assignments, the same writers that focus exclusively on writing inflammatory articles about Singapore.

Pictured: TOC bank account – dated 2 October 2019

Could TOC’s preference to transact using Maybank be an indication that the funds originated from a VIP in Malaysia?

Or is TOC trying to conceal the fact that they are funded by a certain high profile individual in Singapore?

Whichever the source, can TOC still claim to be an “independent” and “transparent” media outfit?

Hotel? Trivago.

What do you think?

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S’pore almost came under attack by truck-bombs in December 2001

Vivian Balakrishnan’s “illiterate” remark was basically what everyone else had in mind