KOTA KINABALU: There is no gag order barring the media from disclosing the name of a former government official charged with committing criminal breach of trust, Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah said today.
“I have looked into the matter. There was no application for a gag order. There is no formal order from the judge. I go based on the record and I have spoken to the judge and he made no gag order,” Wong said.
He added that as such, the press was free to publish the name of the accused in the case.
“Maybe there was some kind of misunderstanding between the judge and the reporters,” he said after launching the Sabah Animal Welfare and Pet Owner Guide, here today.
Also present was Sabah Law Society President Roger Chin.
The person in the dock, a former deputy director of the Sabah and Labuan office of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, faces six charges of misappropriating property entrusted to her involving the sum of RM17,930.
Recently, a Sabah newspaper reported that Sessions Court judge Abu Bakar Manat had barred the media from disclosing the name of the 40-year-old woman.
It said the judge made the decision on grounds that disclosing the name of the accused would be unfair to the woman’s schoolgoing children.
The daily said it found the instruction “odd” and voiced its concern that it could set a precedent where judges could instruct the media not to disclose the identities of persons charged for crimes in court.
Earlier today, veteran lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said Abu Bakar had given unreasonable grounds for the gag order.
Haniff called for an end to the practice of citing unreasonable grounds for gagging the media.