- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

Malaysia: Bloggers Sued

Categories: East Asia, Malaysia, Freedom of Speech, Law, Technology

Malaysian blogosphere is protesting the defamation proceding launched by the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) against two bloggers – Jeff Ooi who writes Screenshots and Ahirudin Atan who writes at Rocky’s Bru. Earlier today there was a post at Rocky's Bru informing his readers of the case [1].

I have been served the papers. They dropped them on Tuesday evening, around 9.30 pm, at the National Press Club. They are applying for an injunction against Rocky's Bru, this blog. They are suing me for libel.
[They have also served Jeff Ooi of Screenshots the papers].

Indonesia based Unspun also commented on the incident [2]

Now comes news that Malaysian bloggers (Screenshots and Rocky’s Bru) are being sued for their postings by, of all people, journalists. So much for the cut and thrust of intellectual parrying to arrive at a greater truth, and the ability of offended parties to instantly respond to correct any untruths in blogs.

Meanwhile, Jeff Ooi is taking all precautions and he is asking readers to correspond with him using a secure mail [3].

Malaysian opposition politician Lim Kit Siang says that the defamation suit will have a negative effect [4]

The NSTP defamation suits will have a chilling effect on freedom of bloggers and citizen journalists as litigation is so expensive that its costs will cripple and paralyse the ordinary individual blogger, making no contribution whatsoever to a healthy process to delineate and define the legal rights of bloggers and citizen journalists.

As these are the first two cases of Malaysian bloggers being sued for defamation, it will have far-reaching consequences for the healthy, mature and democratic growth for free speech and expression, not only on the Internet but in the country as a whole.

Commenting on the post Jeffrey does not see the hand of the state clampind down on blogger's freedom

This is not a clamp down by the government on bloggers. The New Straits Times Press (NSTP) is a corporate citizen in its own rights – not to be equated with the government – and NSTP has legal rights as rest of us under our laws not to be defamed (if indeed it was without legal justification). It is merely doing what it feels it is entitled by law – right or wrong. We cannot read into these unhappy developments as signaling a nationwide conspiracy or crackdown on freedom of the blogs.

Jeffrey is further asking the blogosphere to help offset the NSTP advantage of being a corporate identity with deep pockets by

For the rest of us who believe in Freedom of the Net (within limits of the law) we can mitigate the uneven level playing field by making financial donations to the Bloggers’ legal funds to pay for their lawyers.