Sunday, June 08, 2014

Suing Malaysiakini: The hypocrisy of the Bar Council and others

Updated 10/6/14:
My view on politicians taking lawsuits against journalists is carried by www.therakyatpost.com, an up-and-coming Malaysian newsite, h e r e. The reporter did a good job at capturing what I said to him on the phone. I just need to point out that YB Jeff Ooi did not go after me for the comments in my blog; rather, it was he (before he joined politics) who was persecuted for the comments in his blog left by Anonymous readers, a predicament not unlike Malaysiakini's current one. Jeff came out with a posting to tell readers to be careful with their comments, that life in blogosphere wasn't living in a vacuum. "... "bear in mind that whatever is illegal offline is illegal online in this country," Ooi had said. (For some context, read h e r e.)

Original posting

Christopher Leong issued a long press statement (see below) following the lawsuit against Malaysiakini by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Perhaps he wasn't born yet when the following suits were taken against our media? 



Press Release

Defamation Suit by the Prime Minister is No Answer to Public Misgivings and Criticisms

The Malaysian Bar views with concern the suit filed by the United Malays National Organisation (“UMNO”) and Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak against an online news portal and its editors for alleged defamation.  The defendants in the suit are Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan and Chief Editor Fathi Aris Omar.  The alleged defamation is with respect to the publication by the defendants of two separate compilations of comments by members of the public.


This is the first time a Malaysian Prime Minister has issued suit against members of the news media for purported defamation.  The Prime Minister is in effect suing members of the news media for the views and comments of the public to whom the Prime Minister is accountable and answerable.  This sets a bad precedent and sends the wrong message.


Every public official is accountable to the people who have entrusted him or her with a position of public office and responsibility.  The duties of good governance and accountability should demand the public official be able to endure the full brunt of free speech.


Public officials — especially those holding high public office — and political parties should not resort to lawsuits for defamation as an answer to criticism or comment, whether or not such criticism or comment is unfounded and untrue.  They should accept such adverse comments, no matter how vitriolic, obnoxious or untrue, as natural hazards of putting themselves forth into public political life, so long as it does not affect the person in his or her private sphere.


The Prime Minister should not use civil defamation action against criticism, whether substantiated or otherwise.  The Prime Minister should have taken the opportunity to engage in public explanation, debate, education, counter-arguments and vindication by conduct in answer to untruths and as the means of redressing any alleged injury to reputation.


If the comments and issues complained of are sufficiently important for correction, the Prime Minister should reply in the public arena, and let the measure of public opinion be the judge of the truth.  Public funds and resources should not to be used or expended on defamation suits with respect to matters and comments made in relation to his public office.


In this regard, the approach of the Supreme Court of the United States of America in the leading case of New York Times Co v Sullivan, where the defamation suit by an elected politician was dismissed as being contrary to public interest, set out with approval the following:


Cases which impose liability for erroneous reports of the political conduct of officials reflect the obsolete doctrine that the governed must not criticize their governors…The interest of the public here outweighs the interest of appellant or any other individual.  The protection of the public requires not merely discussion, but information. …Whatever is added to the field of libel is taken from the field of free debate.


The Privy Council in Hector v AG of Antigua and Barbuda expressed sentiments, which we in Malaysia should heed, namely:


In a free democratic society it is almost too obvious to need stating that those who hold office in government and who are responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism.  Any attempt to stifle or fetter such criticism amounts to political censorship of the most insidious and objectionable kind.

We urge the Prime Minister and his political party to withdraw their defamation suit against Mkini and its editors.  The Prime Minister should instead take the opportunity to reply or rebut any adverse or incorrect comments made by members of the public.



Christopher Leong

President

Malaysian Bar

7 June 2014

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why should this biased CELAKA christopher leong be given any airtime? Noticed how they are all the same...the kapal shit, the ambiga shit and now this ah leong shit? Just a bunch of racists that wants to topple the government whichever way they can. It's a collective effort on the part of all these groupings and often involving financial and moral support from external sources.

Be fair and EQUALLY express your "disgust" at anwar, DAP and PKR as frequently then maybe you will appear "morally legitimate"!!!!!

There's a reason why lawyers are often the butt of degrading jokes and this chris character is a shining example!

Anonymous said...

Hasn't Malaysiakini, and The Malaysian Insider, been repeatedly guilty on many occasions in the past years of negligent and sometimes belligerent reporting with regards to some particular public personalities? Is this the whip that must be wrought when patient and gentlemanly coaxing has all but failed to summon forth ethical responsibility and professional discipline in their editors?

Anonymous said...

BAR COUNCIL IS TOTAL DISGRACE.......WHY IT IS IN EXISTENCE IS QUESTIONABLE.....THOSE ARE THE LAWYERS THAT DONT KNOW THE LAW AND BLIND....HALF COOKED LAWYER, JUST PASSED THE EXAM BUT WITHOUT BRAIN....BRAINLESS.....A TOTAL DISGRACE AND SHOULD BE BANNED FOR ITS EXISTENCES......PLEASE DO SOMETHING......

Anonymous said...

Beria-ria Bar Council defend Malaysiakini sampai keluar press statement. When was the last time it released such a lengthy press statement purportedly in defence of media practitioners?
Well if MI stands by what they wrote and reported, there's nothing to be afraid of actually. They can produce their defense and all the evidences in court before the judge in the day of reckoning for all to see; if they do believe they're indeed unblameworthy.

Anonymous said...

The Bar Council President’s statement: “(The public officials) should accept such adverse comments, no matter how vitriolic, obnoxious or untrue, as natural hazards of putting themselves forth into public political life…” can only be said as his personal opinion.

Notably, at the Malaysian Bar Annual Dinner & Dance on 15 March 2014, he had said this:

“We would recall that following the events of 1988, the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary had been a source of concern. Thankfully, after three Chief Justices who brought disrepute to the administration of justice, we have had three Chief Justices, including the present Chief Justice, Yang Amat Arif Tun Arifin Zakaria, who have worked to restore confidence in the Judiciary, and beyond that, have overhauled the system to make it efficient.”

I wonder if it was fair to the three Chief Justices whom Chris Leong had criticized in such a manner ? There wasn’t any explanation from Chris Leong on the actions that had brought disrepute. Perhaps his comments on the three Chief Justices would be deemed as ‘vitriolic, obnoxious or untrue’ to the three Chief Justices, but Chris Leong thought he could say such thing about the three Chief Justices just because they were public officials?

Don’t forget the case of Mohamad Isa Bin Tajol Aros v Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd & others (2011), where the Court of Appeal awarded damages to a public official for defamation, because the Defendants could not justify fair comment.

Labu8455 said...

5Very shocking to hear that kind of "trash" coming from Bar Council Chairperson. I believe there are many more "dungus" behind this "Chief of Dungus"

Anonymous said...

Bro, the paymaster asked for such statement to be issued. Plain and simple.

Peminatrocky

Adait said...

It"s called selective memory.

saraly said...

Plain hypocrisy by a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

What criticism is the bugger talking about? Valid criticism is fine but not slander and libel. In whatever language the Bar Council prefers to express its sentiments, we all know wehere they stand.

The council is full of hypocrites of the highest order. But of course all the dickheads will agree with them stupid lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Previously known as Bar Council,but now it has become an opposition tool and known as BARUA council. It has lost all its credibility and nothing more than just a political party. To Christoper Leong, kiss my ass!

Anonymous said...

I thought he was clever bcos he is a lawyer. Actually he is stupid. Quoting a Privy Council decision. He cannot even differentiate criticism and defamation

Anonymous said...

It's about time for the tables to be turned.

The Bar Council should be impartial, not one sided and need not give lectures on democracy when they do not practice what they say or do.

Go ahead Dear PM. Sue them till their pants drop or else they will continue slandering.

If the PM does not sue, they will say he has no bollocks and their head gets bigger than their shoulders.

Perhaps the Bar Council should go tell Anwar, Guan Eng etc to stop suing Utusan or NST instead.

But what to do, the drunken bar members are not neutral but are tools of the opposition for obvious reasons.

The statement by the Bar is uncalled for, biased, lop sided and gives the council a bad image, because they think everyone believe their lies.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the bar council need to explain to the general public what DEFAMATION means.
That simple !

Anonymous said...

teringat dulu pari@2 PKR/DAP & Ustat2 Pas cakap..Kalau Berani Samanlah!!

Bila saman Tak boleh pulak..

Apa kata cuba lawan dimahkamah ..Malaysia Kini..

Anonymous said...

Teringat dulu pari@2 lebai2 PKR/DAP/Pas bising2 cakap:

Kalau berani Saman & buktikan dimahkamah..

Bila dah SAMAN..Binatang2 yang Sama cakap Jangan Saman..
Mana boleh saman..

Bengong ka lu olang Majlis Loyar Burok & Muka Hodoh


Anonymous said...

" You repeat, I sue " . So go on and ask this fella what the game of 'suing' and 'defamation' is all about.

charleskwi said...

May be Najib should have all the bloggers herein including Rocky to be the AGs and the members of the cabinet.
With all their suggestions the country would be a better place to live !

Anonymous said...

From my goggle search, Azmin never filed a suit against against Utusan over the alleged sex photos. His lawyer only issued a letter of demand to Utusan by the suit is never filed in Court.

Of course Azmin is afraid the truth will come out in Court.

Similarly, after making a lot of noise, Mat Sabu never sues Zahid Hamidi over his alleged involvement in Syiah teachings.
Of course, Mat Sabu is afraid to face the truth too.

Fred Goh said...

Again I repeat. Ur a piece of shit.

Anonymous said...

WHY BOTHER ABOUT BAR COUNCIL !
Just ignore them........
I salute NAJIB......SAMAN JANGAN TAK SAMAN.

Anonymous said...

YESSSSSS. 9.00 pm......BULLS EYE.
I LIKE THAT NAME, I THINK THEY DESERVE IT.
THEY NOT THAT SMART AFTER ALL..........

Anonymous said...

Datuk, This Chistopher fella is he fantastic lawyer kah? Isn't there a suit pending in Court filed by our Prime Minister which should not be commented on by anyone? Is that not called sub judice? How come the head honcho of d'lawyers of Malaya can comment on a matter that already filed in Court? Is the Court itself or the PM's lawyers going to refer this for contempt tak?

Anonymous said...

We very much agree with Anon 4.24 pm. These groupings in disguise just want to bring down Malaysia. Each one decide for decide for yourselves - why? It is so obvious ain't it.

Nik Tuan Padang said...

What has happened to this Leong fella? Is he mentally retarded or is he suffering from "myasthenia gravis"? Why do you have to mention international bodies and international laws? Why don't you mention the local statutes like the Rukun Tetangga Ordinance? Why don't you explain the effects and implications of PM's lawsuit against Malaysiakini in the context of the Rukun Tetangga Ordinance? Go ahead and bring this matter to the Jirga in Kabul!!

While you and your Bar Council never complain or bring the matter to the UN bodies sitting in New York or Geneva whenever Anwar and his Pakatan gangs are suing their detractors left right, centre and behind ("butt"), why are you now raising hell & fire and hue & cry the moment our long suffering PM Najib wants to have his day in court vis a vis the Malaysiakini "gutter" journalists?

Leong, you and your gang at the Bar Council has created enough mischief at the NUCC and was in cahoot with Anwar's Reformasi goons. If you/your group are politically inclined, why don't you convert your Bar including its table, chairs & stools into a political party and stand for election; both by-elections and general elections.

You are welcomed to debate me and all my like-minded Malaysian friends. I dare you, Leong as you are the Head Honcho of the Bartender fraternity

Nik Tuan Padang

IT.Scheiss said...

There is nothing in th1s Malaysian Bar statement which contains any point of law with regards the Prime Minister's and UMNO's defamation suit, but is all opinion, either of Christopher Leong himself or of the Bar Council (the executive committee of the Malaysian Bar).

Over the past several years, it's become pretty obvious that the Bar Council has taken positions favourable to the opposition and against Barisan Nasional parties and its leaders in government.

It's not that Barisan Nasional parties or government are all angels and the opposition all devils, but as a body of lawyers in Malaysia, the Malaysian Bar should not oppose the right of a politician and his political party to sue a media organisation over alleged defamation in an article which it published.

After all, this could bias the opinions of lawyers acting for the plaintiffs in the case, who could be Malaysian Bar members.

Perhaps Datuk Rocky could tell us how much support if any, which he and Jeff Ooi received from the Malaysian Bar, when they were sued for defamation by the New Straits Times back around 2007.

Anyway, here are the two Malaysiakini articles referred to and I leave you to judge which parts can be deemed to be defamatory towards a person, persons or an organisation, NOT just criticism of his policies, capability as a leader, performance. judgement, policies of the UMNO political party, etc.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/262690

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/262689

Anonymous said...

Tuan. Baru saya nampak Malaysiakini tu dengan bangganya mengisytiharkan penderma-pendermanya :-
1. National Endowment for
"Democracy" - ditubuhkan oleh
barua reagan yang telah
menyerang Iraq yang
bertamadun.
2. Open Society - ditubuhkan oleh
soros yang bertanggungjawab
bagi krisis kewangan di Asia
pada Julai 1997 di
beberapa negara termasuk
Indonesia, Thailand, Korea
Selatan - yang paling teruk
dijejas.
3. kedutaan belanda?
4. asia foundation? -
berpengkalan di amarika.
5. international centre for
jounalists (icfj)? sebuah
pertubuhan amarika.
Bagi kami nampak suspeklah!
Lebih lagi bila ada penglibatan amarika. Adakah penderma ni c.i.a. kah atau evenglists??
Kenapa ambil berat tentang hal-hal lain sovereign nation melalui satu alat propaganda macam m'kini dan kutu-kutunya? Orang Malaysia harus menggunakan akal fikiran dan tidak diterperdayakan melainkan jika geng syaitan-syaitan ini.

Grand Marquis said...

Too bad. Malaysia always wanted to be first class country, but the bar council has proven that no matter how much investment in infrastructure, you just cannot change the 3rd class mentality. The bar council which is suppose to be the cream of professional has stooped so low that it has brought disgrace to any humanity who still has sense of common sense.

To the bar council members, you have to voice out and protest. This is not only hypocrisy, but hypocrisy in stupidity.

Anonymous said...

AIYA LATUK,

I BELIEVE AND I HAVE STRONG FEELINGS THAT THE BAR HEAD HONCHO HAS NEVER HAD TIME TO READ ANY COMMENTS POSTED INSIDE THE NYT AND IF HE DID HE WOULDN'T DARE TO MAKE NYT AS AN POSITIVE EXAMPLE.

FOR COMPARISON, IF LET SAY THE SAME TYPE OF VULGARITY AND VITRIOLIC LANGUAGES INSIDE THE MKINI WERE TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE NYT, THERE IS NO CHANCE AT ALL THE NYT'S EDITOR WOULD HAVE POSTED THEM ONLINE.

WHY? BECAUSE NYT KNOWS THE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT BUT NOT THE BAR-KINI.

Calvin Sankaran said...

It is kind of funny when the defenders of law themselves are upset about using the legal due process to grieviences. Perhaps they prefer Najib to throw MKini editors into jail so they can accuse the PM as a dictator. That Najib is taken the route of law should be praised and a testament that the govt believes in the legal system and democracy rather than using force to gets its way.

BTW, it wasn't too long ago that LGE sued the NST for publishing my letter claiming it was defamatory when my letter was clearly in public interest and made no accusations but demanded answers. I am wondering where was Leong and his Bar council minions at that time. I can't recall the so-called defenders of free speech coming to the NST defence at that time.