Updated: Sat, 07 Jun 2014 06:00:30 GMT | By The Malaysian Insider : Malaysia

In Malaysiakini suit, Najib goes against public accountability, says Bar

Datuk Seri Najib Razak's defamation suit against a news portal sets a bad precedent as he is in effect suing the media for the views and comments of the public to whom he is accountable, the Bar Council said. Its chairman Christopher Leong (pic) said public officials were accountable to the people who have entrusted them with positions of...


Malaysia Insider

Datuk Seri Najib Razak's defamation suit against a news portal sets a bad precedent as he is in effect suing the media for the views and comments of the public to whom he is accountable, the Bar Council said.

Its chairman Christopher Leong (pic) said public officials were accountable to the people who have entrusted them with positions 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," he said in a statement today.

Leong said the prime minister and Umno president should not use civil defamation action against criticism, whether substantiated or otherwise.

"This sets a bad precedent and sends the wrong message," he said.

He said public officials, especially those holding high public offices, and political parties should not resort to defamation suits as an answer to criticism or comment.

“They should accept such adverse comments, no matter how vitriolic, obnoxious or untrue. So long as it does not affect the person in his or her private sphere,” he said.

“The prime minister should have taken the opportunity to engage in public explanation, debate, education, counterarguments and vindication by conduct in answer to untruths and as the means of redressing any alleged injury to reputation.”

He said if the comments and issues complained of were sufficiently important for correction, Najib should reply in the public arena, and let public opinion be the judge of the truth.

Leong urged the prime minister and Umno to withdraw their suit against Malaysiakini and its editors.

On June 3, Najib's lawyers served Malaysiakini with a writ of summons and a statement of claim to the news portal’s administrators at its Bangsar office.

Najib named Malaysiakini publisher Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, editor-in-chief Steven Gan and chief editor Fathi Aris Omar as defendants.

The other plaintiff in the suit is Umno executive-secretary Datuk Abdul Rauf Yusoh.

The plaintiffs said that the compilation of readers' comments in two "Yoursay" articles published on May 14 – namely "A case of the PM reaping what he sows" and "How much will Najib spend to keep Terengganu?" – were defamatory.

The defendants said they would file their defence. The High Court has fixed June 18 for case management.

The Malaysiakini articles comprised comments critical of Najib and Umno by readers regarding the short-lived Terengganu political crisis where three Umno assemblymen, including former menteri besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, became independents and then returned to the party a day later. – June 7, 2014.

3Comments
Jun 7, 2014 7:02PM
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This is all counter productive. Only Malaysian leaders have this luxury of being paid by public funds & waste their time on finding faults like this media issue, waste their time killing other people's career whether political or business, swearing & bad mouthing political opponents. Look at our neighbor Singapore. They set up a media company regionally & use it to promote their citizen & do it like a national interest. One good example is the recent solar car that was developed locally, give it a licence plate & let the developer adjust it to real life daily use. If its my beloved country, the idea would be quashed unless some umporno buggers can benefit, no vehicle licence will be issued & no other promo will be done. We are killers of our own ideas! Aduhai najib, you are setting a Very Bad example!!
Jun 13, 2014 9:04PM
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THE GOVT HAVE NO RIGHT TO SUE ANY PUBLISHER OVER PEOPLE'S UNSATISFACTORY WITH GOVT VOICE THROUGH MEDIA AND PUBLISHER CHANNEL.   GST IS 100% OBJECTION FROM PEOPLE. ALL CHINESE MEDICINE PRODUCTS SHOULD NOT IMPLEMENT GST CONTAINING OVER 1000 TYPES.  THE GOVT IS MAKING IT HARD FOR PEOPLE WITH PRODUCTS (GST) CHARGING PEOPLE AT EVERY CORNER.  THIS IS REDICULOUS AND PURE 100% GREEDY OF GOVERNMENT.   NAJIB (PM) AND DEPUTY PM SHOULD RESIGN CAUSE THIS TWO GIANT LEECHES A STRESS AND TROUBLE TO THE PEOPLE.
Jun 7, 2014 1:45AM
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"Leong urged the prime minister and Umno to withdraw their suit against Malaysiakini and its editors."-----@MSN News Report.

     Taukeh Leong, don't you worry - you are not the defendants or are you???   Malaysiakini is not worried.  Let the case be decided in court.
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