January 2007


A reader by the name of A Voice wrote a thought-provoking piece in response to the AFP story: Bloggers undeterred by lawsuit. His thoughts deserve a prominent space for further in-depth discussions.

EXCERPTS:

wwu-kalimullah.gifWe saw Kalimullah Hassan was successful to initially silence Husam Musa and Harakahdaily on the ECM-Avenue merger issue.

That was when the guerilla web/blog started to takeover and dessiminate online. It was heard that this sparked a minority challenge to the merger at the Avenue EGM. But it died down.

Matthias Chang attempted to garner attention but he went overboard with the accusation of corruption. Kali sued him and achieved the same “ceasefire”.

Finally, it was within the UMNO Penerangan Negeri sessions at FT, Selangor and Penang that they could not stop the issue anymore from the floor. Even when they had a Parliamentary PAC, it was hot for only 2 sessions and then, quiet.

(more…)

What these defamation suits against bloggers actually mean, and how bloggers are taking it – from the defendants’ point of view. It’s now on YouTube.

wwu-yutube300107.jpg

Video clip courtesy Zan Azlee of Fatbidin.com, under the series: ‘I May Be Malaysian, But I Carry A Big Stick’.

To view the video, click here to YouTube.

EXCERPTS:

It is only in the larger context of freedom of expression that the dichotomy between journalist and bloggers can be resolved. In Malaysia’s authoritarian environment, bloggers such as Ooi and Rocky are in the frontline of government action to curtail freedom of expression. As individuals, they are subject to legal, economic and political pressure to conform.

With the elections around the corner and the credibility of the current government shot to pieces by the debacle around water, tolls and petrol prices, it is impossible to see actions of plaintiffs merely within legal rights.

The granting of injunctions that demand the removal of content before the courts make a final and ultimate decision on the matter, creates an avenue for legal censorship that the ruling coalition has been waiting for. Be sure, if the state is successful in ensuring that bloggers kow-tow, it will not be long before other bloggers as well as independent media such as malaysiakini and the Sun will have to choose between shutting up or shutting down.

It is not just bloggers that should unite, but all those who stand for free and responsible expression.

SOURCE: Malaysiakini
URL:
www.malaysiakini.com/opinionsfeatures/62781

Blogs and boundaries of responsibility
Premesh Chandran
Jan 30, 07 3:01pm

The political role of the Internet came to Malaysia in the form of Reformasi websites, following the arrest of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in September 1998. Armed with their dial-up connections, early users would eagerly lap up the latest news and gossip from sites such as Mahafiruan (Great Pharaoh), FreeMalaysia and Laman Reformasi.

Published anonymously, these websites would pour scorn on the prime minister and his cabinet, mixing facts with a healthy dose of myth, speculation and propaganda. Yet, with the mainstream media cowed by government control, these websites developed a strong following, ebbing only when the Reformasi movement waned and lost its steam.

In formulating malaysiakini, the founders took a conscious decision to publish a site with a face. We would publish news that matters, and stand behind those posting. All our articles carried bylines. Readers who contributed to the Letters section would have their identity protected, with the editor carrying the responsibility for letters published. Over the past seven years, malaysiakini has successfully built a reputation for credibility.

Bloggers have a similar choice. Remain anonymous and publish as you please or identify yourself as risk legal action for every word that is published.
(more…)

It came from a man on the street at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

wwu-liarprotest-300107.jpg

It’s a big issue of public interest. Will we get to hear it all at the open court instead of hearing in chambers?

Let’s not close an eye.

SOURCE: AFP/Malaysiakini
URL:
www.malaysiakini.com/news/62804

Bloggers undeterred by lawsuit
Jan 30, 07 5:53pm

Two Malaysian bloggers being sued by a newspaper today said the move would not suppress their activities.

Malaysian bloggers and rights campaigners have come out in force criticising a defamation lawsuit by the government-linked New Straits Times Press (NSTP) against bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin Attan.

Under a deal floated by New Straits Times Press, its newspaper and Ooi today agreed to refrain from publishing articles or posting comments related to the unprecedented lawsuit.

The move follows a similar agreement between Ahirudin and the NSTP on Monday.

But the suit and the blackout, which both sides said was to prevent prejudicing the case, would spark even more comments online, the two bloggers said.

“The readers at large are discerning. We are viewing this defamation suit quite positively. It will sprout more blogs,” Ooi told AFP.

“This doesn’t stop other bloggers from writing about it. We can’t speak but others will want to continue speaking about it,” he said.

The NSTP’s lawsuit has triggered criticism from watchdogs who say it will stifle free expression in Malaysia, where the media is tightly controlled.
(more…)

WE APOLOGISE

As it turned out today, the anticipated move by The NSTP & Gang of Three to cite blogger Jeff Ooi for contempt of court did not take place.

Our ‘prediction’ fell flat on our face. What we reported by quoting sources from the legal circle didn’t happen, and Jeff is safe, at least for now.

For making that mistake, WE SINCERELY APOLOGISE to all our readers, the way all responsible journalists would whenever we report inaccurate information, the exception being Kalimullah Hassan for his erroneous June 11 column about the Mahathir-Abdullah Tokyo Meet-up.

As we are not from the same breed of Kalimullah, we apologise to you and we will slap ourselves hard on our face. But, believe us, we will come back to redeem our credibility in the days ahead.

The contempt of court issue arose over a post by Screenshots reader SuperShyteStirrer after the ex-parte injunction has been issued against Jeff. The NSTP shebang has instructed its lawyers Shearn Delamore to serve notice on the defence lawyers, while NSTP acknowledged that the particular reader’s comment had since been deleted from Screenshots.

These are the facts we will vehemently stand by for now.

However, we can’t guarantee that the issue of contempt over SuperShyteStirrer‘s comment on the person of Kalimullah Hassan will not be invoked by the plaintiff when the hearing proper starts on March 6 for Jeff.

Jeff’s hearing Jan 30

At the hearing in chambers before Justice Abdul Malik Ishak at the civil high court in Kuala Lumpur this morning, the court was given the update that Jeff had filed an application to strike out the suit on the ground that the Statement of Claim against him was ‘fatally deficient’.

Separately, Jeff had also filed with the court to set aside the ex-parte injunction obtained by the plaintiffs on January 11.

However, this morning, the plaintiffs’ lawyers managed to obtain an ad interim to have Jeff continue to keep 13 allegedly defamatory postings off his Screenshots blog pending the March 6 hearing in relation to strike the defamation suit taken by the NSTP shebang against him.

In a development similar to the latest development in Rocky’s case, both parties have agreed not to publish anything that risks prejudicing the defamation suit. The joint statement recorded at the Court reads:

“By agreement, all parties henceforth agree not to publish any articles, comments or posts regarding the dispute presently before the High Court in this action that may be regarded as subjudice or that may prejudice the fair trial of the case.”

On the other hand, Jeff’s lawyer Haris Ibrahim said that the judge would first deal with the striking out application before hearing other matters when the parties meet in court on March 6.

It means that the interparte injunction and the setting aside of the ex parte injunction will be fixed for mention on March 6. If the striking out application is successful, the defamation suit against Jeff will be dropped and there will be no injunction left to contest.

ANALYSIS. Mark our words. When Jeff Ooi turns up for the hearing of the interparte injunction tomorrow, he will be cited for contempt of court!

The incredible thing that slays Jeff is: He was done in by a reader who made a crude remark about plaintiff Kalimullah Hassan, if only for less than 30 minutes online before Jeff had it deleted swiftly.

On January 23, Jeff revealed that his reader, who named himself SuperShyteStirrer, has used proxies to mask his digital trail, and had routed his posting to post in Screenshots through the network owned by “Safe Host Network Geneva”, Switzerland, via IP address 80.80.228.150.

KEY ISSUES:

  1. Is Jeff willing to go down the gauntlet without blowing the cover of SuperShyteStirrer — whoever?
  2. The larger picture: Will the NSTP shebang succeed in putting a blanket ban on readers’ comments in blogs, and muzzle the entire Internet community that was named TIME People of the Year 2006?

HAVING compromised The NSTP’s defamation suit against Rocky, leadership at The NSTP had ordered their lawyers, Shearn Delamore, to cite Jeff for contempt of court when the hearing of interparte injunction begins before Judge Malik Ishak at Civil Court 6 tomorrow.

Prior to that, on January 11, Justice Malik had granted an ex-parte injunction against Jeff, ordering him to take down 15 articles the plaintiffs cited as defamatory from his popular blog.

According to people who drink at the same pubs as lawyers from Shearn Delamore and Zul Rafique & Partners, plaintiff Kalimullah Hassan has ordered Cecil Abraham to “skin Jeff alive”, and do it fast.

The main firepower for Kalimullah is said to be a comment left by a reader of Jeff’s Screenshots blog, who used the name of SuperShyteStirrer, that was deemed by the NSTP a breach of the ex-parte injunction issued against Jeff.

In his blog entry dated January 23, Jeff stated that the reader, whose comment was time-stamped 23:00hr January 19, 2007, had tried to implicate him for possible contempt of court by posting an offensive remark against one of the plaintiffs.

“Despite my plea to readers not to complicate my defending of the defamation The NST et.al took against me — where I warned you circa 11.30hr January 18, 2007, to “tread carefully when you leave your comments” — there was an evil attempt to implicate me and possibly ruin my case.

“LIAR KALI”

Over the weekend, drinking buddies of Shearn Delamore and Zul Rafique lawyers were circulating the rumours — yes, rumours even at this point in time — that Kalimullah blew his top, but soon grinned, when he saw SuperShyteStirrer’s comment:

Isn’t it rich that a PROVEN LIAR like KALIMULLAH HASSAN (hey LIAR KALI sue me if you dare – Jeff has my identity) has the gall to sue for libel.

Kali, if you lie in print and do not retract or apologise, in spite of of the fact that your error has been pointed to you by no less a person of your master and handler Abdullah Badawi amongst others, what do you think that the Malaysian public thinks of you? Once a liar always a liar. Yes we all agree that we make mistakes. But when our mistakes are pointed out to us, most normal people would apologise and put the facts right. You have had ample opportunities to do this and yet you refuse. So I will call you a LIAR. Sue me if you dare!”

Reliable sources familiar with the case also said Shearn Delamore has issued a letter to Jeff’s solicitor at Messrs Thomas Philip on January 22, cautioning them of SuperShyteStirrer’s remarks.

However, in the letter to Jeff’s solicitors, Shearn Delamore did acknowledge that, at the time of its writing of the notification to Thomas Philip, the said SuperShyteStirrer comment had since been removed from Jeff’s weblog.

People close to Jeff said he was on guard of the commentaries in his blog, and that SuperShyteStirrer’s remark was deleted within half-an-hour after it was posted.

Nevertheless, that didn’t seem to stop Kalimullah from claiming his pound of Jeff’s flesh. You just need to wait till tomorrow if our story is to be proven true.

SECOND TIME UNLUCKY

This is the second time unlucky for Jeff falling into the hands of his reader, which gave an opportunity for the same shebang from The NSTP Group, aided by the Son-in-Law, to hit Jeff hard as their main aim was to divert public attention on Abdullah’s failure to contain money politics during the 2004 Umno party election.
(more…)

Next Page »