Power Chess Asia (PCA) Pte Ltd and manager Lee Fon Man recently withdrew the “false and untrue” statements they made against GM Nelson Mariano II on their website two years ago, vindicating the former Asian Junior champion from baseless derogatory remarks that besmirched his reputation.
They also agreed to pay substantial damages to Mariano.
The Singapore District Court cleared Mariano by awarding summary judgment against PCA and Lee (NRIC No: S1293612E, also known as Robert Lee or Samuel Lee), and held them jointly liable for making defamatory statements against the Filipino player and coach of Chess Kidz, also based in Singapore.
The court also ordered the defendants to pay damages and costs to Mariano although the PCA and Lee have asked for more time to pay the damages.
“Internet defamation is difficult to fight. But the Singapore court has dealt with my complaint fairly and efficiently. This serves as a lesson for those who use the internet to intimidate, belittle and humiliate others with impunity,” said Mariano.
He added that he was very much relieved that the case is over.
“I am very glad that the case is over. For two years, I constantly worried about the damage done to my reputation and the uncertainty of the legal proceedings. Finally, I was vindicated from these unfounded allegations and can now focus on teaching at Chess Kidz,” Mariano said.
The retraction posted on the PCA website admitted that the two allegations the school had made about Mariano were false and untrue. It also expressed regret for the distress and embarrassment it had caused him.
The Singapore court also ordered Power Chess and Lee be restrained from repeating the defamatory words or any other words of similar effect in the future.
Mariano, also a joint third placer in the World Juniors in 1994, retired from competitive chess after a runner-up finish in the Asian Zonal 3.2 in Vietnam in 2007 and worked with PCA for one year.
The dispute arose when Mariano was asked to sign an addendum, stating that if he leaves the company, he cannot work in Singapore in anything related to chess for 36 months. Failure of which will have him pay the school S$50,000 (roughly P1.5 million).
Mariano, which described the move as unreasonable, resigned and joined another chess school Chess Kidz.
But PCA accused Mariano of a number of unfounded allegations, including calling him names such as mongrel, explicitly saying he is inept to coach and conduct chess lessons. These allegations were circulated on the internet.
In his affidavit, Mariano said the PCA’s criticism of his coaching ability didn’t stand up to scrutiny. He also charged that the PCA had tampered with the news articles it had presented and continues to put an altered picture of the Filipino GM on their website he has stopped working with them two years ago.(pr)