Court allows AG’s bid against news portal over comments attacking judiciary

The article on June 9 published in Kini, in which the attorney-general says offending readers’ comments criticising the judiciary were published.

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today allowed Attorney-General Idrus Harun’s ex-parte application for leave to commence committal proceedings against news portal Malaysiakini and its chief editor Steven Gan over the publication of comments posted by its readers.

“We agree that a prima facie case for contempt is established,” said Court of Appeal president Rohana Yusuf who chaired the three-member bench which also includes Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Zaleha Yusof.

The court fixed June 25 for case management and July 2 to hear the proceedings.

Malaysiakini is operated by Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd.

Senior federal counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching said Malaysiakini had allowed offending comments to be posted on the comment section of an article published on June 9 titled “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”.

Loke said the AG had applied to be the applicant in this matter as he is the guardian of public interest, adding that the matter was of public interest due to statements made against the judiciary.

She said those statements were an indirect attack against the chief justice, the judges and judiciary as a whole and would result in eroding public confidence in the judiciary.

“Those statements expose the judiciary to public scandal and contempt,” she added.

Loke said a prima facie case of contempt has been established by virtue of Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950.

Section 114A (1) states that a person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or republish the publication, is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini’s lawyer A Surendra Ananth said a representation was sent to the AG yesterday for consideration to withdraw the leave application and requested the court to give a short adjournment.

But Loke said the AG had considered the request and wished to proceed with an application.

Surendra told reporters that he would consult with his clients on whether to file an application to set aside the leave for committal proceedings or just proceed with the contempt.

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