PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has dismissed an application by Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan to set aside a leave application by the attorney-general (AG) to cite the news portal for contempt.
A seven-member bench chaired by Rohana Yusof said AG Idrus Harun had established a prima facie case for contempt.
She also said Order 52, Rule 2B of the High Court Rules did not require the AG to give Malaysiakini and Gan a show-cause letter.
“Failure to give notice is not fatal or prejudicial to them,” she added.
She said the Federal Court was the correct forum to decide on the matter, and cautioned all parties to refrain from commenting on the issue to avoid sub judice until disposal of the case.
The bench will now hear on July 13 whether the news portal showed disrespect for the judiciary.
Idrus initiated the contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and Gan on June 16.
In his affidavit, he said they had facilitated the publication of comments by readers which undermined the country’s judiciary.
The comments in question appeared on an article dated June 9, 2020 titled “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”.
Idrus said the comments “clearly meant that the judiciary committed wrongdoings, is involved in corruption, does not uphold justice and compromised its integrity”.
“These comments threaten public confidence in the judiciary and are clearly aimed at tarnishing the administration of justice,” he added.
Malaysiakini then filed an application on Thursday, seeking to set aside the Federal Court ruling granting Idrus leave to commence contempt proceedings against the portal.
Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said Malaysiakini had not knowingly published the comments in question.
“Comments by its subscribers are automatically published,” he said, adding that the offensive remarks would be removed if there was a complaint.
He also said the contempt proceedings should have begun in the High Court instead of the Federal Court as it denied his client the two-tier appeals.
“The matter should begin in the High Court as the alleged contempt was directed at the judiciary and not Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat,” he added.
Federal counsel Suzana Atan however said Malaysiakini had control over comments from its readers.
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