SOURCE: AFP/Malaysiakini

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.

Growing online support

Ahirudin, who writes the Rocky’s Bru blog, and Ooi of Screenshots are being sued for a series of items critical of government policy that were published on their sites last year.

“We are living in a changed world, this is how we communicate and we think for ourselves and having this liberalised mindscape is good for the country,” Ooi said.

Ahirudin said Internet websites and new blogs had mushroomed in a show of support for bloggers since the lawsuit against him was filed earlier this month.

“After the case has been brought to court, there seems to be a lot more discussion. There has been an explosion of news on the blog and even new blogs were created to support the bloggers,” Ahirudin told AFP.

“This is going to be more and more pronounced as we go along (with the case) and it is not about to shut blogs up,” he said.

Malaysia’s high court has set February 22 to hear Ahirudin’s application to strike out the suit, while Ooi’s strike-out application will be heard on March 6.