Malaysian Libel Law Needs Urgent Reform

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil has been slapped with a lawyer’s letter from the Pahang government seeking an apology and RM1 million in damages after she spoke on deforestation and logging in the state.

In a Facebook post this morning, Shariffa Sabrina shared that the notice was issued by law firm Messrs Hidayah Ishak & Partners, representing the state government.

The environmental activist was asked to issue an unconditional apology to the state government through all sharing platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram.

Should she fail to comply with the notice within 14 days of receiving the letter, the Pahang government will file a claim with the court without referring to her and will see other damages as well…..

“This will not be (the) last as threats, intimidation, blackmail, and abuse of power will continuously be used to try and stop me from exposing the government’s wrongdoings when it comes to crime against our priceless nature,” she said when contacted.

Source: the Vibes

Our comment

Only in Malaysia, thanks to a recent outrageous Federal Court interpretation of the law, can a body such as a state government hound an individual for ‘defamation’ over criticism of its actions and speaking out on matters of public concern.

By contrast, when PAS brought their unsuccessful suit in the UK against Sarawak Report they had to frame an argument that somehow their leader Hadi Awang had been personally defamed. A political party, a government, a council, a department cannot sue in genuine democratic countries where the right to protest and freedom of expression are enshrined.

Yet in Malaysia, this brave lady who has protested at Pahang’s wanton destruction of its protected forests (for the benefit of the richest people in the state and to the detriment of the poorest) is being bullied by officials who are protecting the interests of those rich beneficiaries using public money!

More than anywhere in the world Malaysia therefore needs urgent anti-SLAPP legislation to outlaw such outrageous suits designed to silence individuals who raise attention over matters of vital public concern and official corruption.

State government bullies who use taxpayers’ money to try to silence criticism over their corruption and ineptitudes need putting in their place.

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