Issue of bloggers sued in Malaysia
Jefff Ooi is in the news. Not that he is an unknown though. He merits quite a mention in Wikipedia. Jeff is a pioneer Malaysian blogger who writes a popular blog called Screenshots. Started in 2003, the blog covers current issues relating to Malaysia, mostly concerning politics.
This website is termed "Malaysia's Most Influencial Blog" by Malaysiakini, a popular local online news publication. Also in 2005, Screenshots won the Asia category of the Freedom Blogs Awards given by Reporters Without Borders.
In early January, Ooi was sued for alleged libel/defamation by New Straits Times Press and several of its top executives. Also sued together with him is another local blogger Ahirudin Attan a.k.a. Rocky who writes the blog Rocky's Bru.
The lawsuits are the first of their kind in Malaysia, if not the world. The Malaysian blogging community and some NGOs have called it an attempt to stifle freedom of expression over the internet and some called it going back on the government's guarantee of no censorship on the internet.
However, I think they have the right to bring on the lawsuits if they think they have been wronged, provided they can prove to the court the articles/postings in the two blogs were defamatory.
By defamatory it is meant that they cause injury to the reputation or character of someone resulting from malicious false statements.
Malaysian laws protect every citizen from harm to their reputation by false and derogatory remarks. Every citizen can seek redress if they believed that they have been defamed. But they have to prove it to the court.
Another important point is, if the articles/postings are proven to be defamatory, they would be so whether they are over the internet, published in newspapers or broadcast over radio and TV. But if they were not defamatory, they were not, regardless of the medium they appeared in. Not censoring the internet has nothing to do with it; the law takes its course irrespective.
So it is wrong to say that defamation laws don't hold in cyberspace just because the government said it would not censor the internet. But the defamation has to be proven in court.
The Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has defended legal action launched against Jeff and Rocky, saying that the internet was not exempt from defamation laws.
However, this lawsuit has spawned the Bloggers United Campaign to defend the freedom of expression.
Jeff and Rocky will be embroiled in court in an intensified situation which causes a lot of blogger related headlines in various newspapers, local and international.
Posted by Dale Ng, an Internet entrepreneur enthusiast who shares tips, info, news and articles on Internet marketing. Feel free to visit his website on Internet home business at: http://www.homewebbiz.com/ . You can also visit his other websites at: http://tinyurl.com/jcsqs and http://tinyurl.com/vervd and http://www.all4webs.com/r/8/dalengz .