Governments should be open to criticism, says minister

Communications and Multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A minister is urging Putrajaya to amend an act that allows governments to sue individuals for defamation, arguing that as a public body it should be open to criticisms.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the right to freedom of expression extends to a citizen’s views — be it for or against the government.

“I take the view that governments ought to be deemed as public bodies which should be open to criticism.

“This is the essence of democracy which must allow governments to be subject to public scrutiny and comment,” he said in a statement.

The DAP MP was commenting on the Federal Court’s decision to allow the state or federal government to sue individuals for defamation.

The apex court had earlier this week made the ruling, based on provisions in the Government Proceedings Act 1956.

Former prime minister Najib Razak had said the ruling threatened the freedom of speech and the right to criticise the government.

Gobind went on to support the call by Hanipa Maidin, the deputy law minister, for a committee to be set up to study the Federal Court’s judgement and propose to the Cabinet amendments for that purpose.