Speakers' Corner: Occasional contributions from readers, which do not necessarily reflect the views of Sarawak Report but may be published at the discretion of the site.

Criminal Insult?

Press reports indicate that a Malaysian lady has been fined a considerable sum for “improper use of network facilities” to “insult” a member of the Selangor royal family.

Why should oppressive “laws” designed by a criminal government to suppress criticism of its actions be used for what is clearly, if anything at all, something for which the “victim” has a civil remedy for defamation? Are those concerned too grand, or timid, to defend their reputation in the civil courts? Or is just easer to criminalise criticism when it is levelled at those too important, or reluctant, to pursue their civil remedy?

Dictatorships commonly use repressive laws to ban criticism and Malaysia seems to be no exception. The “accused” in the particular case possibly felt that she had got off cheaply but that is no reason for this gross misuse of a law simply to avoid the need for someone to come to Court to defend their reputation when they think that it has been unfairly attacked. All Malaysians are equal before the law and the sooner that all concerned realise this the better.

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