Left Menu
Development News Edition

Malaysia's top court hears contempt bid against news portal

Malaysia's top court on Monday heard a rare contempt charge by the attorney general against a popular online news portal for publishing readers' comments that criticised the judiciary, a move slammed by media groups as a clampdown on press freedom.

PTI | Kualalumpur | Updated: 13-07-2020 17:00 IST | Created: 13-07-2020 16:25 IST
Malaysia's top court hears contempt bid against news portal
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

Malaysia's top court on Monday heard a rare contempt charge by the attorney general against a popular online news portal for publishing readers' comments that criticized the judiciary, a move slammed by media groups as a clampdown on press freedom. Attorney General Idrus Harun, who was appointed by a new government that took power in March, filed contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, over comments made by five readers on its portal last month that allegedly tarnished the judiciary.

The Federal Court said it would deliver its verdict at a later date after hearing arguments from both sides. Prosecutors have said the portal should be held responsible for publishing the comments. Lawyers for Malaysiakini rebutted that there was no intent of mischief, as the portal was unaware of the comments and had immediately removed them after it was notified by police.

"This issue will have a chilling effect not just on Malaysiakini but other media organizations, tech companies, and millions of social media users in Malaysia," Gan said. If the portal is found guilty, he said it could impact freedom of expression online and how media groups run their online businesses. Malaysiakini, the country's first online news portal, was launched in 1999 and is known for its criticism of the government amid strict media censorship. Online media have since expanded and played a role that led to Malaysia's first change of government since independence in 2018 elections.

The reformist ruling alliance, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, collapsed in February this year after his Malay party withdrew to form a new government with the former corruption-tainted regime. Mahathir, a two-time prime minister, resigned in protest, and his former party ally Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as his successor in March. The Center for Independent Journalism has urged the government "to end and refrain from the continued use of intimidating measures to threaten and punish the media and silence opinions." Gerakan Media Merdeka, another press advocacy group, said in a recent statement, "The free media has an important role as a check and balance agent to the government and those in power." "Any claims or charges laid against the media under the current political scenario will undoubtedly lead to an increasingly negative perception of the judiciary and government," the group warned.

Apart from Malaysiakini, police last week grilled staff from news broadcaster Al Jazeera over a documentary on the treatment of undocumented immigrants that officials said was unfair and biased. An activist was also questioned about a social media post alleging the mistreatment of refugees at detention centers.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

3D printing and the future of manufacturing post COVID-19

The on-demand, customizable, and localized manufacturing of product components facilitated by 3D printing has the potential to redefine manufacturing but there are certain technical, mechanical, and legal limitations that, unless ...

How UK’s 'best prepared' healthcare system failed to gauge COVID-19

The UK is proud of their public health system and its unlike any other country as around 90 percent of British public supports the founding principles of National Health Service. But without accurate data being available to stakeholders in ...

Poor on IHR capacity progress in 2019, WHO says Cambodia tops COVID-19 response

Despite being in proximity to Hubei, the original epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia has reported just 226 confirmed cases and zero deaths. After seeing the data, WHO appreciated Cambodias healthcare information system but experts dou...

Loopholes in Healthcare Information System may have failed Singapore COVID-19 model

In the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore was in the limelight for its effective healthcare system and pandemic response plan. However, Singapore has now joined the list of the worst-hit nations and the situation is even worse...

Videos

Latest News

SpiceJet operates two flights from Moscow and Tashkent to repatriate 295 Indians

SpiceJet said on Wednesday that it operated a repatriation flight each from Moscow in Russia and from Tashkent in Uzbekistan, bringing back a total of 295 Indians. These flights were operated in association with film actor Sonu Sood, the ai...

Birlasoft Q1 profit up nearly 35% at Rs 56 cr  

Birlasoft, a part of the USD 2 billion diversified C K Birla Group, on Wednesday reported nearly 35 per cent rise in consolidated net profit at Rs 56.3 crore for the June 2020 quarter. The company posted a profit of Rs 41.8 crore for April-...

Mall revenues likely to halve this fiscal due to COVID disruptions: Report

Mumbai, Aug 5 PTI Revenue of mall operators is likely to halve this fiscal because of the coronavirus-driven lockdowns as multiplexes, food courts, restaurants and gaming zones continued to remain closed, according to a report. Much of...

Effort to douse fire in Baghjan well in final stages

PSU major Oil India on Wednesday said its effort to douse the blaze at the damaged gas well at Baghjan in Assam, which is spewing gas for 71 days, is in its final stages. As part of its final preparation to cap the well the repair of the 90...

Give Feedback