So it's officially confirmed. Stephen Sing himself has admitted on The Straits Times no less, that he was the one who posted the comments two weeks ago gloating about being busy suing people. What he failed to admit and the report failed to mention was his despicable brazen act of bragging about how many downloaders he had double 6-ed. Like as if it were some sort of personal accomplishment as a testament to some childish one-upmanship competition. Only this isn't some amateurish game one is talking about, we are talking about the lives of thousands who have been and will be affected by Odex's arbitrary and arguably unethical behaviour.
This Odex saga, the showdown between Odex (as now personified by Stephen Sing) vs Anime Fans has been growing in magnitude and receiving increased coverage as may be seen from the coverage in the newspapers which basically progressed from The New Paper to The Straits Times as the articles grew longer and ended up in the Prime News section.
Small wonder. General discontent and unhappiness over the arbitrary way Odex were continuing to issue the dreaded letters demanding settlement to downloaders who had downloaded before the initial batch of letters were sent out in May(and which was only publicised in the newspapers on 1st June 2007) boiled over and exploded into a seething mass of fury when it was revealed that Stephen Sing had made such despicable remarks; gloating about suing and double 6-ing so many downloaders.
As a Director of Odex where the company's official stand is that the plethora of Odex letters sent out demanding settlement is to prevent the collapse of the anime industry in Singapore and to protect Intellectual Property rights, such uncalled for behaviour by Mr Sing that denotes a sense of satisfaction and achievement in going after downloaders makes it personal and is unbecoming for someone who proclaims to champion the cause that he says he is.
Personally, I have nothing against the man. But it is understandable why he and the company is the focus of such passionate hatred by the anime fans and other members of the online community. Odex's products have been widely derided as being lacking in quality with complaints ranging from bad video quality to the fact that the numerous mistakes in the subs are due to direct translations from Chinese translation scripts and not the original Japanese.
On top of that, there is this unshakeable perception that while Odex's actions are legal, they are hardly ethical. Even non-anime fans like Sean who never watch a single episode of anime are struck by the inherent unfairness of it all. The main gripe being why no widely publicised and available warning was issued first and more importantly why are people still receiving the Odex letter for downloads in March and April when the first batch of letters were sent out in late May and only reported on 1 June 2007 and they had stopped downloading since May/June. Shouldn't downloaders who continued downloading after 1 June 2007 be caught/targeted instead? Apparently Odex doesn't think so.
It is this retrospective and arbitrary behaviour which irks fans considerably. Add Stephen Sing's gloating incident and convenient memory lapse to the equation and one can fully comprehend why Stephen Sing is not exactly the idol of anime fans in Singapore. He's been demonized regularly with great venom and even received death threats. And his reaction to the current state of affairs? It has been a "PR disaster". That's putting it a bit mildly, what you have is an absolute boycott of all things Odex, a company whose standing amongst the majority of the anime fan community has been destroyed.
And it certainly doesn't help when a Director of the company, Mr Sing, has been caught red-handed gloating over 'giving it' to downloaders in a public online forum no less. So what has Mr Stephen Sing learnt from all this? Not much it seems. Apart from regretting his mistakes and acknowledging that the way things were handled resulted in a "PR disaster", until the situation changes (more parallel imports and competition or no illegal downloads at all? He didn't clarify.), Mr Sing has no intention of stopping.
And you wonder why. Bravo, keep those letters coming Mr Sing and feel the love. It's just a "PR disaster" after all.
Update: Anime Fans seek legal recourse against Odex- Is there a fighting chance?