If you’re a Singaporean, and you haven’t heard of SMRT Ltd (Feedback), you must be living under a rather huge rock. Especially since the Sim Lim Square scams of late have been highlighted with its rise from neighbourhood troll page to vigilante group.
We last spoke about SMRT Ltd (Feedback) when reporting the group’s actions against Mobile Air store owner Jover Chew, who had cheated many people, including a Vietnamese tourist who was laughed at when he got on his knees to beg for forgiveness, as well as a lady who received a refund of $1,010 in coins.
Despite the press that these scams have been receiving, many are still frustrated that there has been virtually no action taken to help the scammed or to prevent the scammers from their operations. That is where SMRT Ltd (Feedback) took over. From releasing private information and photographs to sending large amounts of pizzas to Chew’s house, the public and the media seem tied on whether they are heroic vigilantes sparking changes or cyberbullies that have invaded a man’s (albeit a horrible man) life and threatened his safety.
We approached SMRT Ltd (Feedback) for an answer, not fully expecting one considering its relationship with the press at this time. However, we did receive a reply.
What are your thoughts on being called a ‘vigilante group’ instead of a ‘satire/troll’ group, since you started mainly to talk about the frequent MRT breakdowns in 2011?
Our thoughts are stoic at the moment, and regardless of how the public and the media paints us, we feel that ultimately, there are deficiencies in the due process of the law, which is why we reluctantly stepped in. We didn’t plan to be involved in any vigilante activities but from Heather Chua, to Anton Casey, and now the SLS saga, no authoritative figure has rise up to take concrete action. We filled that gap.
How do you think online-vigilantism has helped with the Sim Lim Square (SLS) scams?
CASE publishes the number of complaints filed with each errant retailer but as we all know, nothing proactive is being done to nip it at the bud for the past several years.
Online vigilantism comes in when the people we trust to handle the situation becomes incompetent.
The effect we are starting to see is that retailers in SLS now are more wary of their approach. This case is going to be debated in Parliament and the Govt. is finally stepping in to tackle this problem more seriously. Whether or not their solution works remains to be seen.
Do you think what you’re doing constitutes as cyberbullying?
Perhaps. Is it against the law? Maybe.
At the end of the day, we provide a platform to publish publicly available information. What people do with the information is none of our concern.
Whether it’s lawful or not, it does not matter in our books. What we do know is that if you want to fight a dragon, you don’t send a toothless tiger. You send another dragon of the same caliber, regardless if that dragon is in anyway a subscriber to the laws of the land. Sure there will be collateral damage, but it works.
Sometimes, a necessary evil precedes a greater good.
SMRT Ltd (Feedback) was also the subject of a troll news piece “Man behind satire page, SMRT Ltd (Feedback) arrested; believed to be linked to Wikileaks” which was placed on The New Paper’s website and AsiaOne. The article highlighted an arrest at a tea stall in Arab street of a man “who was enjoying several mugs of teh tarik”.
Will charges be placed against them? Who knows. But whether you agree or disagree with the SMRT Ltd (Feedback)’s actions, you better not cross them. They’re growing into their vigilante(h) shoes, and are feeling pretty comfortable in them.