Has PM Najib hired an advocate, perhaps a foreign law firm, to intimidate online publishers?

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On 27 February 2013, Aliran received the following email asking us to remove two articles from our website.

Email from 'Riswan Habib'
Email from ‘Riswan Habib’

Apparently, it was first sent to Malaysia Today erroneously (though the links referred to are Aliran articles).

Aliran quickly checked out the articles to recall what was written in them.

The first is a statement by YB Sivarasa Rasiah, the MP for Subang, who had called upon the PM to respond to recent serious allegations made by Deepak Jaikishan.

The second article is by Aliran member and author of several books Ms Tan Pek Leng, who had compared the behaviour of the PM to his father in their responses to ISA detainees who had gone on a hunger strike. Whereas the father had met with detainees, the son and current PM had remained silent and not made any attempt to meet the detainees.

After reviewing the above articles, the Aliran Exco decided that we would not be removing either. Rather we regard the comments contained in them as ‘fair comment’ and firmly stand by both articles and their authors.

Strange and suspicious

Aliran’s concern was then directed at “Advocate Riswan Habib”, who from the email received claims to be a “Senior Legal Advisor” to the PM.

We googled ‘Riswan Habib’ but there’s no such person.

There is also no section or phone extension number for him in the “Office of the Prime Minister Main Block” that he mentions in his email.

Instead, his email address @brooklinshaw.com provides a clue. This is what the Brooklin Shaw website tells us about the firm:

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At any rate, do Malaysians lawyers refer to themselves as “Advocate so-and-so” when they communicate with the public?

It also seems strange that this ‘Advocate Riswan Habib’ should email us instead of sending us a registered letter like most local lawyers would do.

It appears to us that this person is not a local and might be based abroad. Or he could be a lone pro-BN cyber-trooper who has taken it upon himself to harass online publishers.

In any case, we want the PM to clarify whether ‘Advocate Riswan Habib’ represents him or the PM’s office. If indeed Riswan does, we demand that the PM’s Office stop the intimidation and harassment of alternative websites like Aliran.

Dr Francis Loh
President
1 March 2013

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Shakirin al Ikram
20 Mar 2013 7.46am

Confirm if it bears the PM’s official letterhead because all correspondence must bear the official letterheads also the Company’s official Stamp. If it is a biz incorporated in Malaysia, its will have a registration Serial number. This is Definitely harassment and blatant intimidation, for which a Police Report is mandatory for the police to investigate. If the Police are inert keep on digging till the imposter is exposed. ALL Malaysian Government letters are in BM! If it comes from a foreign sources Najib will crucify him for dumping more mess at his already shaky feet. From the writing, it looks like the work of a poorly educated Malay because his English is E Grade atrocious! The text has several errors in terms of the PM’s name and manner he is addressed not to mention the stating of the Section of the Defamation Law. Dr Francis, Truth knows no Fear, keep on your good work. Don’t end up like another, alas, fmr Aliran Pres. Dr!

Shakirin al Ikram
20 Mar 2013 7.08am

Take this matter to a more potent forum like the ongoing Ceramahs by Pakatan! Distribute copies and leaflets for all to read, the Parliament, the Bar Council and members of the Judiciary. If it existed, the Advocate X must be flushed out for breaching our Constitutional Right of freedom of speech and expression!The Govt is in sheer terror, Najib and his band of dishonest MPs will be stopped at the ballot! We need Bahasa translation so that the ulu and Kampung masses can be Educated and not be bought with the mere pittance of RM 500 and other `Wa tolong Lu, Lu tolong gua’ handouts !

Hawking Eye
Hawking Eye
6 Mar 2013 12.11pm

I note the following.

The letter is poorly drafted with a lot of grammar and sentence structure mistakes. If this is the personal handy work of the senior legal adviser to the PM, I really feel sorry for Mr. Najib for having this caliber of people on his staff to advise him.

For tightness, the sender should address the letter to a key official of Aliran and not to the generic “Admin” (and that too shortened).

The letter indicates that it is from the senior legal adviser to the PM and it comes from the Office of the Prime Minister. Rightly it should come from and bear the email address of the PM’s office.

It looks like BrooklinShaw is operating off-shore as it seems to have no local address.

Ravinder Singh
2 Mar 2013 9.59pm

This is just a “surat layang” not worth a second look. From the grammar, it is apparent that the original thoughts were in Bahasa Malaysia, poorly translated into English. Work of an UMNO cybertrooper pretending to be a lawyer.

*P* Nayar (@___P___)
2 Mar 2013 11.28am

to me the content of the message looks sufficiently fake as to suggest it’s the act of some overzealous barisan nasional cybertrooper. i.e., “move along now, nothing to see here!”

Richard
Richard
2 Mar 2013 4.50am

A law firm with no physical address or phone number on its website? Highly suspicious!

Tony P Willis
2 Mar 2013 3.43am

I just read your article and in addition to your thoughts I would like to add just a very simple observation. The grammar punctuation and structure of the whole email is horrible.

1 – “There has (have) been several links”
2 – The use of the word “against” as a verb
3 – Writing his name in capital letters and within speech marks
4 – “Its seems to be”
5 – “So,terminate”

These are just the first few that I could find. The greeting and farewell are also unbelievably written. If this person claims to be a lawyer, then somebody in that firm needs to hire an editor to check their writing. These glaring mistakes also lend to the impression that this is not an original email.