Our Response to Vendshare’s Open Letter

Top image by Liang Jin Tey for RICE Media.

On March 17, RICE made the decision to publish an article titled, “These Singaporeans Lost Money in a Financial Scheme. What Can They Actually Do About It?

This decision was made after extensive review with our writer, editors and legal team. We stand by our reporting and will vigorously protect the anonymity of our sources from any threats or intimidation.

On March 18, Vendshare and its Founder Raymond Ng published an Open Letter addressed to RICE. You can read this letter here. We have also included a link to this letter in the original article.

The following is our response to Vendshare:

1. We refer to your letter dated 18 March 2021.

2. The allegations in your letter incorrectly characterise our article dated 17 March 2021 and are denied. We will deal only with the most egregious mischaracterisations but reserve our right to respond fully at the appropriate juncture.

3. First, our article was based on interviews with franchisees, who gave their points of view as reproduced. We did not suggest in the article or otherwise that our interviews captured all the franchisees who may have participated in the Vendshare programme. Neither does the article take a position as to whether you or your company, Vendshare, had committed the acts complained of by the interviewees. That is a matter between you and the franchisees. Insofar as the article had suggested that people affected by financial schemes should take recourse, that is a statement of general applicability and not targeted at you or your business operations.

4. Second, it is not correct that we have refused to afford you the opportunity to tell your side of the story. As you will note from our website, the article contains a hyperlink to your open letter, which our readers are free to read and decide for themselves what to make of your narrative.

5.  Third, we note that you have not denied that franchisees of the Vendshare programme had indeed lost money in the scheme, or that police reports were made by such franchisees against you and Vendshare. That was precisely what we had reported in our article and you have now confirmed the veracity of our reporting, which we maintain.

6. Insofar as you are challenging the statements made by franchisees we have interviewed, please note that our article had expressly stated that the quotes from interviewees form their personal views and comments on the matter based on the facts available to them and should not be construed as statements of fact put forward by us. 

7. To the extent that you claim that the Vendshare programme is profitable and that “franchisees are making money in those location”, we invite you to share and demonstrate – with reference to documentary evidence – how this is so.

8. Once independently verified by RICE, we have and will continue to include your views and any evidence that you may choose to share with us. Please note that we are aware that P.K. Tan, the positive review you referenced in your open letter is a member of Vendshare’s staff. 

9. Finally, we have not encouraged any of our readers to make more police reports against you, nor “rallied franchisees” to write in to the franchisees who have spoken to us. 

10. All our rights are expressly reserved.

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