Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
سوليدريتي برسام مليسياكيني دمي كبيبسن ميديا
The Federal Court’s decision to cite news organisation Malaysiakini for contempt and fine it RM500,000 over reader comments is unprecedented and shocking.
The move has brought into question our country’s commitment towards ensuring freedom of speech as enshrined in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the freedom of Media to report freely without the fear of being reprimanded over reader comments.
Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, when reading a summary of the majority ruling, said that Malaysians should remember that the right to freedom of expression should be exercised within the limits of law, highlighting that contempt of court is not allowed under the law.
“Nevertheless, this unfortunate incident should serve as a reminder to the general public that in expressing one’s view especially by making unwarranted and demeaning attacks on the judiciary in the exercise of the freedom of expression as guaranteed and protected by our Federal Constitution, it must be done within the bounds permissible by the law.
“And the law does not tolerate contempt of court as it undermines the system of justice,” the judge added.
However, one must note that the people of Malaysia are currently confused, agitated and distressed due irresponsible actions by some leaders of the Malaysian government that seems to be governing the nation in an irresponsible manner.
The present government came into power by means of a coup, led by members of the previous government and opposition, completely ignoring the people’s mandate as given during the 14th general election.
Policies and actions are haphazard at best, with government linked leaders getting off scot free after having broken rules established by their own bloc while the commoner is punished almost immediately for breaking said rules.
Granted, freedom of speech isn’t without limit, but the question remains if the people are at fault or if the government is for bringing about the present state of uncertainty, agitation and confusion.
Last year six journalists from Al Jazeera were questioned by police over a report on the alleged mistreatment of migrants in Malaysia during Covid-19 on suspicion of violating three laws. Two other journalists were also investigated for their reporting.
When I went through the report, I found nothing to justify the idea that the news channel had insulted Malaysia despite being of the opinion that the same report could have been crafted differently.
As for Malaysiakini, I am not always in agreement with the portal and feel that its reporters do cross some lines, though I do not think that any limit has been crossed as yet to justify the recent court verdict against the portal.
Freedom of media in Malaysia is under threat, and that, in my earnest opinion, is the truth.
I therefore stand in solidarity with Malaysiakini over the recent court verdict and will do anything within my means to assist the portal in the spirit of truth and justice.