Source: The New Paper via DigitalOne
SINGAPORE - It was a tweet that his mother had to come out to defend publicly.
Last Friday, local teen idol Edwin Goh, 19, tweeted that he had been attacked by a group of men while on his way home at about midnight on July 18.
The MediaCorp actor's initial tweet prompted messages of concern from fans and friends, including fellow actor Ian Fang, who wrote: "What happened? Report police already?"
Goh, who has more than 30,000 followers, replied to Fang on Twitter: "What can the police do?"
Apart from implying that he did not bother to make a police report, his comment also prompted some netizens to ask if he was questioning the police's capabilities.
His mother then sprang to his defence, telling Chinese evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News on Monday that his tweet wasn't meant to cast doubt on the police, but merely reflected that he did not want to make a big fuss out of the matter.
Moreover, his mother, who was not named in the report, said he had suffered only minor bruises and he had not seen his attackers clearly as it was late at night.
"My son is the victim, yet he has been misunderstood... He has been feeling quite down these days," she was quoted as saying.
But when Goh spoke to The New Paper over the phone on Monday, he related how he had even thrown a punch at an assailant "armed with a wooden pole the size of my thigh".
He said that he was walking home from a convenience store in his Hougang neighbourhood after filming when a group of men shouted and charged at him with wooden poles.
Goh said: "I felt very scared and my first instinct was to run for my life. I struggled and fell down while running away from them.
"Three of the men were holding wooden poles the size of my thigh, and one of them was going to hit me with it. I threw a punch at him and used my arm to cover my face before quickly running off. I didn't even have time to think about self-defence."
Goh said he ran towards a crowded coffee shop nearby and managed to shake off the pursuers.
Though he emerged from the assault relatively unscathed, Goh said he lost his mobile phone when he dropped it during the scuffle.
Goh, who plays a gangster in the upcoming Channel 8 series Gonna Make It, said he was sporting a fake tattoo of a dragon on his right arm for his new role and speculated whether it might have been the reason for the attack.
He said: "I don't know these people at all, and I don't think they watch my shows or know that I am an actor on TV, so it could be the fake tattoo that triggered their assault."
Here was when events took an odd turn.
When TNP probed Goh, who made his name portraying teen rebels in Channel 8 drama On The Fringe in 2011 and local gangster movie Imperfect last year, for more details of the assault, he turned cold abruptly.
He said he had to hang up and asked this reporter to text him any follow-up questions. But he never responded to the questions.
Goh had also told Shin Min Daily News that while he had made a police report on his missing phone, he did not mention the attack.
When TNP called him on Tuesday to ask if we could see the report, he declined to show it to us.
He also refused to give us the police report number so we could verify the report with them. After some persuasion, he relented but said he could only give us the number the next day as he had to look for the report.
When he did not call back on Wednesday, TNP called him thrice but his mobile phone was switched off each time. It was still switched off on Friday when TNP called him twice.
Goh had also gone silent on Twitter since Monday.
So why the sudden silence?
When TNP contacted Goh's manager, she claimed that he could not be reached because he had gone overseas for a short getaway.
Goh is the best person to clear up the discrepancies in his story - the tweet implying he did not make a police report, telling Shin Min Daily News he did make one but without mentioning the attack, and his refusal to produce the report.
Or does he need his mum to come to his defence again?
To post or not to post
Edwin Goh is not the first local celebrity who has caused a stir or landed in trouble with a tweet. Nor is he likely to be the last.
But given that celebs are often under public scrutiny, the question of what they should and should not post online is often raised.
Former actor Joshua Ang, best known for his starring turns in Jack Neo's movies I Not Stupid (2002) and We Not Naughty (2012), infamously got into a legal tussle with beauty chain Citispa CEO Gerald Teo, 34, in late 2011.
Ang, 24, had posted something on Twitter and Facebook about Mr Teo that the latter claimed was defamatory.
The two have since reached an out-of-court settlement.
In 2010, MediaCorp actor Elvin Ng, 32, wrote a blog post in Mandarin titled I Met A Bad Person, recounting how a co-star had been making things difficult for him and bullying him. He did not reveal the actor's identity but there was speculation that it was veteran China-born host-actor Guo Liang, 44.
In response, Guo wrote a blog post to defend himself and his actions. The saga led to a furious online debate and backlash for both stars.
Ng had said in previous interviews that he would still stand by his decision to go public with his thoughts, saying: "If given one more chance to do it again, I wouldn't have done it any other way."
The straight-talking Ang shared similar sentiments.
Ang, who has more than 5,000 followers on Twitter and 40,000 likes on his official Facebook page, said he wants to be as genuine as possible in his online postings.
Besides getting involved in a lawsuit, he also fell out with local host Dasmond Koh, 41, last year after he aired his grievances on Twitter about Koh's film, Timeless Love, which he acted in.
He told The New Paper: "I am very direct and honest, and I see my social media sites as a place for me to rant. I'll post something as long as I think it is justified, I don't care what the public thinks."
Ang, who now runs his own production company, added: "As an artiste, I don't see the point in hiding anything.
If I keep it in and don't voice it out, I will be unhappy too."
Not all local personalities feel the same way.
Popular teen actress Kimberly Chia, who acted with Goh in On The Fringe and Imperfect and has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter, thinks twice before tweeting these days.
Said the 18-year-old: "Sometimes I will self-censor my tweets. As more people are following me now, I don't tweet very private stuff any more.
"I once tweeted that I was at a place, and there were people who replied to say they would rush down to find me. These days, I will only tweet about something after it has happened."