As you judged, so you shall be, too

Posted on February 24, 2021


On 21st June, 2020, I wrote :

“I have read the comments in the article that forms the basis of the AG’s application to move contempt proceedings against Mkini.

Respectfully, I take a different view from him.

I have no doubt that the lawyers who will appear for Mkini will put forth a strong case to support their arguments as to why this application should be dismissed.

The AG, too, will make his case.

And the court will decide.

It will be telling, however it decides.”

On 19th February, 2021, two judgments were delivered.

The first.

In the morning, by a 6-1 majority, the Federal Court found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt.

A summary of the judgment of the majority can be read HERE.

The minority judgment summary can be read HERE.

I would commend both for a full reading.

From news reports, counsel for Malaysiakini urged the court, if it was minded to impose a fine, to keep the same to the sum of RM20,000 – RM30,000.

Counsel appearing for the AG’s Chambers asked for a fine of RM200,000.

The majority, as we all know, fined Malaysiakini RM500,000.

From news reports, the fine has since been paid.

I found this, from the summary of the judgment of the majority, as useful to understand the task before the court, as seen by the majority judges.

“…we are mindful that no clear jurisprudence has developed a precise theory to determine when an online platform provider
who creates a technology, system or platform that enables wrongful behaviour, will be liable. The blame has now to be considered”.

Put plainly, the law on this issue was unsettled.

So unsettled, then, that even as Malaysiakini have accepted that the impugned words were indeed offensive and have apologised for the same, this act now adjudged as a contempt of court occurred in a state where the law was unclear.

As unclear to our courts as, surely, it must have been to Malaysiakini.

The majority have cleared up the position of the law now.

We all know.

Malaysiakini, too.

So why, when the position is only now clear, and not when the act of contempt occurred when the law was unclear, impose such a hefty fine?

Praise the Lord, then, for the second judgment that day.

6.527 individuals adjudged that they would not stand by and leave Malaysiakini to face the fine on its own.

There is hope, yet.

Posted in: Ramblings