The Online Citizen

The Online Citizen is a blogging platform based in Taiwan. Founded in December 2006 by Andrew Loh and Remy Choo Zheng Xi in Singapore,[1][2] it is known for its political activism.[3] It describes itself as a group of advocacy journalists who report on topics not generally covered by the mainstream media.

The Online Citizen
The Online Citizen logo.svg
Type of site
Political commentary
Available inEnglish
  • Singapore (2006-2021)
  • Taiwan (2022-present)
Country of originSingapore
  • Andrew Loh
  • Remy Choo Zheng Xi
EditorTerry Xu


In 2011, the Singapore Registry of Political Donations gazetted the platform as a political organization, noting that the editors of the website organized online and offline campaigns to change legislation and government policies.[4] Under the Political Donations Act, political entities cannot receive funds from foreign contributors[5] and anonymous contributions above SGD 5000. In 2014, the website registered for a class license, which was regulated under the Broadcast Act. It meant that it had to "undertake not to receive foreign funding for its provision, management and, or, operation as part of the registration".[6]

2018-2022: Defamation cases and closureEdit

In February 2018, TOC was de-gazetted as a "political association", as it was ran by only one person – editor Terry Xu, who has been responsible for the development of content since 2011, when its core team of editors left.[7][8]

Criminal defamation over allegations against Singapore Cabinet ministersEdit

On 4 September 2018, a letter alleging "corruption at the highest echelons" in the Singapore government was published on TOC. This led to computers belonging to Xu being seized by the police for investigation on 21 November 2018, forcing the site to go into a temporary hiatus.[9] It was found that the author of the letter had sent it to TOC through a friend's email account who did not intend for the account to be used in such a manner.[10] On 21 November 2021, both Xu and the author was found guilty for defamation with the author being guilty for a charge under the Computer Misuse Act.[10][11] On 21 April 2021, Xu was sentenced three weeks jail and the author three months and three weeks. Xu would be appealing against the sentence.[12]

38 Oxley RoadEdit

On 1 September 2019, Hsien Loong sent a letter, via the Prime Minister Office, to The Online Citizen's (TOC) editor, Terry Xu over an article that was published on TOC, repeating the claims that he had tried to preserve the house against his father's wishes.[13][14] In the same letter, he wrote that he would be taking legal actions, unless the article is taken down from TOC website and its Facebook page and Xu makes a full apology.[15] However, Xu did not comply fully.[16] On 5 September 2019, Hsien Loong sued Xu for repeating statements made by Lee's siblings, an action which critics questioned the use of Prime Minister Office resources for personal matters.[16] Xu was found guilty in 2021. Hsien Loong was awarded S$210,000 in total damages, which he donated to charity.[17]

2021 suspension and closureEdit

On 14 September 2021, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) suspended TOC's broadcasting class license over a dispute over reports on funding sources and would cancel TOC's licence if the information request was not met by 28 September. TOC was also required not to published any new articles beyond 16 September 2021, 3pm.[18] Xu instead took the site offline on the morning of 16 September 2021.[19][20] The license was cancelled on 15 October 2021.[21] On 16 December 2021, TOC's judicial review application, challenging the orders by IMDA, was dismissed by the High Court.[22]


On 16 September 2022, the website was relaunched, with Xu announcing that operations would be shifted to Taiwan under a new local company.[23] Xu also added that this relaunched website will provide daily news coverage in Asia and beyond Singapore.[23]

Founders and editorsEdit

  • Andrew Loh (Founder and former editor)[8]
  • Remy Choo Zheng Xi (Founder and former editor)[8]
  • Kumaran Pillai (former Chief Editor)
  • Ravi Philemon (former Chief Editor)[8]
  • Terry Xu (Executive Editor)


  1. ^ "Terry Xu: "I Am Ready to Go to Jail Forever."". December 2017. Archived from the original on 14 November 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  2. ^ "What Happened Next: Zheng Xi Choo, Singapore". Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  3. ^ Nazry Bahrawi. 2011. Political blog turns the tables on ruling party. South China Morning Post, February 1.
  4. ^ "The Online Citizen" gazetted as political association Archived 2011-02-20 at the Wayback Machine, Channel News Asia, 17 February 2011, retrieved on 31 December 2011
  5. ^ Temasek Review to shut down after July Archived 2011-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, ChannelNewsAsia, 7 April 2011
  6. ^ Tham, Yuen-C (2014-11-10). "Company behind socio-political website TOC registers under class licence notification". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  7. ^ "The Online Citizen website and two other groups no longer considered political associations". The Straits Times. 9 February 2018. Archived from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Online Citizen now a one-man show". The Straits Times. 3 March 2016. Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  9. ^ Euan McKirdy. "Singapore news portal on 'hiatus' after computers seized by police". CNN. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  10. ^ a b Shaffiq Alkhatib (2021-11-12). "TOC defamation trial: Terry Xu and contributor found guilty of defaming Cabinet members | The Straits Times". Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  11. ^ "singapore: Shuttered Singapore news site's editor guilty of defamation - Times of India". The Times of India. 12 November 2021. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  12. ^ "Singapore jails shutterred news site's editor". The Jakarta Post. 21 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  13. ^ Au-Yong, Rachel (3 July 2017). "Oxley Road: Lawrence Wong addresses questions about deed of gift". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Singapore PM says wants to avoid taking family feud to court". Reuters. 2017-07-02. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  15. ^ "PM Lee demands The Online Citizen take down allegedly defamatory article or face legal action". TODAYonline. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  16. ^ a b Voices, Global (2019-09-11). "Singapore prime minister sues independent news website for defamation". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  17. ^ "High Court awards PM Lee $210,000 in damages in defamation suits against TOC editor Terry Xu and article author". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  18. ^ The Online Citizen’s licence suspended, ordered to stop posting on website and social media Archived 2021-09-14 at the Wayback Machine, CNA, 14 September 2021
  19. ^ Kurohi, Rei (2021-09-16). "The Online Citizen taken offline, ahead of deadline set by IMDA after failure to declare funding | The Straits Times". Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  20. ^ "The Online Citizen goes offline after row with Singapore government". South China Morning Post. 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  21. ^ Kurohi, Rei (2021-10-15). "IMDA cancels The Online Citizen's class licence". Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  22. ^ Lum, Selina (2021-12-16). "High Court throws out TOC's bid to challenge IMDA's orders against its Chinese site, social media channels | The Straits Times". Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  23. ^ a b Chan, Rachel (16 September 2022). "The Online Citizen reactivates website and social media accounts; editor Terry Xu relocating to Taiwan". CNA. Retrieved 16 September 2022.

External linksEdit