Malaysiakini conviction will have chilling effect on freedom of expression

Image: Geralt/Pixabay

The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) is deeply concerned by the apex court’s ruling against Malaysiakini (owned by Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd), an independent online news portal, for contempt of court over readers’ comments.

Hakam is further perturbed by the hefty fine of RM500,000 imposed on Malaysiakini, despite the fine requested by the Attorney General’s Chambers being merely RM200,000, whilst Malaysiakini’s counsel pleaded for a maximum fine of RM30,000 on the other hand.

While Hakam acknowledges that contempt of court is a serious offence, and the dignity and integrity of the judiciary must be protected in all circumstances, it ought to be remembered at this juncture, that the media plays a vital role as the fourth pillar of democracy. In fact, it serves as a check and balance on the legislature, executive and judiciary at certain critical points of time, and enables a balanced and progressive population to engage in public discourse.

Hakam views that Malaysiakini’s conviction of contempt of court and the grave sentence imposed on it would cause fear to public discussion and comments in respect of concerned issues on online news portals. This would effectively cause a chilling effect on freedom of expression and media freedom.

Hakam is also concerned that the presumption of fact in publication by Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950 was invoked to presume Malaysiakini as the publisher of the impugned comments. The impact of Section 114A is far reaching, as it tends to impose the burden on a person to prove his innocence as opposed to the prosecution to prove his guilt.

READ MORE:  Cease intimidation of media over coverage of Ganapathy’s death in custody

Hakam reiterates its call to abolish repressive and oppressive legislations which would curtail fundamental liberties as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. – Hakam

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DOMINIC DAMIAN’s iPad
20 Feb 2021 11.26am

This response marks without reservation the day of our resistance and redemption. It is also reclaiming our self-respect and is a direct slap on the face on those who wish to suppress our freedom in a draconian and tyrannical manner.
Reclaiming freedoms dream is a hunger.