My posting on the Teresa Kok vs Utusan Melayu's RM30 million suit, In Defence of Utusan Malaysia, has drawn a record number of comments (449 comments as I write this). The letter by Mansur Putih that I published h e r e brought in 323 comments.
I believe that the many people had responded because they care about the Freedom of our Press.
It is quite obvious, however, that we'll have to agree to disagree on the basic concepts of that freedom, as well as on the role of politicians in promoting Press Freedom, and whether they should sue newspapers (or whether the newspapers should sue anyone, even a politician, which is what Utusan has now done).
What most of the commenters seem to agree on is that
1) Press Freedom must come with responsibility, and
2) Journalists must write/report the truth.
That is most heartening. I subscribe to both 1) and 2). Take If we all subscribe to freedom+responsibility and sticking to the truth for bloggers and anyone else (including political activists, NGOs, members of ivil society) who use the media - old or new - to tell their stories to the masses.
Several articles and blogposts have been written to support or condemn my stand. Zainul Arifin wrote a piece in the NST [Use the bully pulpit, not the courts, Wed 15/10]. Wong Chun Wai doesn't want another newspaper or journalist sued, h e r e. And so does Shamsul Yunus in Rocky and the Flamers.
I was given many new names and titles by some of my most regular commenters. Some accused me of having changes sides (defect?). But nobody sued, and I'm thankful for that.
Haris Ibrahim did his stuff h e r e and some commenters, riled by my support of Syed Ali Alhabshee's initiative to set up the Tabung Azan, challenged me to respond to his posting. Haris, however, is part of a legal team representing Jeff Ooi and I in an on-going defamation suit against us by the NSTP & 4 Others. It is, therefore, unreasonable to expect me to be at loggerheads with my own lawyer publicly on a matter that surely shares some of the merits of my own court case.