BooksActually saga: Sing Lit Station ends partnership amid Kenny Leck allegations

The move by the leading literary non-profit comes amid allegations against Leck of exploitative and abusive practices.

27/9/2021 7:12:00 AM

Leck, owner of Singapore's best known independent bookstore, has been accused by former employees of making unwanted advances on them and failing to pay their salaries on time

The move by the leading literary non-profit comes amid allegations against Leck of exploitative and abusive practices.

·2-min readPHOTO: BooksActually Facebook pageSINGAPORE — Leading literary non-profit and champion Sing Lit Station has ended its partnership with BooksActually, amid allegations against the bookstore's owner Kenny Leck of exploitative and abusive practices. 

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In aFacebook poston Monday (27 September), Sing Lit Station said it would no longer work with Singapore's best-known independent bookstore on the 2021 Jalan Besar Writing Residency, which doles out grants to a handful of writers each year. The decision was taken due to the seriousness of the allegations against Leck. 

"We have decided to terminate the programme and will re-announce new details on the 2021/2022 residency when they are finalised," it said in an update on itswebsite. It is also planning a series of discussions with the literary community to address "institutional and communal failings in the literary scene".

Sing Lit Station, which was co-founded by Joshua Ip, Daryl Qilin Yam – BooksActually writer-in-residence from April to June this year – and Jon Gresham in 2016, added that it will reassess future collaborations with BooksActually or its publishing arm Math Paper Press based on "meaningful organisational changes that prioritise the safety and welfare of their staff".

Allegations by ex-wife, female ex-employeesOn Saturday, socio-political websiteRice Mediapublished an article detailing allegations by several of the bookstore's former employees, including Leck's ex-wife Renee Ting. They accused Leck of making unwanted advances on them and claimed that he had often failed to pay their salaries on time, or even at all. 

In a Facebook post on Sunday,Leckadmitted to his "personal failings" in his management of the store, which had "caused immense pain to specific ex-employees". He also made "mistakes" in his marriage, adding, "I acknowledge causing Renee deep pain that she may never heal from."

However, Leck said that some allegations and "inferences" are "totally untrue". "There will be a time when I will be ready to speak to each in detail publicly, but now is not that time," he said. Story continuesLeck said that he has also ceded full legal ownership and directorship of the bookstore to the current team of five employees, who will be the new owners. He will be removed from all decision-making processes, while the team will be drafting and codifying workplace SOPs, which includes an anti-harassment policy for future hires.

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In September 2020, BooksActually closed its physical premises in Yong Siak Street to transition to selling books online.  Read more: Yahoo Singapore »

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