Stifling free speech can stunt nation’s growth, ex-top judge cautions

Source: Malay Mail Online

Mohamed Dzaiddin said that silencing criticism would be detrimental to the country’s overall progress. Pic by The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Putrajaya should not resort to “dubious laws” to curb free speech if Malaysia is to grow as a nation, Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah said.

The retired chief justice added that silencing criticism would be detrimental to the country’s overall progress as citizens “must be free to point out abuses, corruption, injustices, and any unhealthy happenings and to hold leaders accountable”.

“To progress as a nation, there must be space for dialogue and legitimate opposing views, both online and offline, without the use of dubious laws to clamp down on them.

“Freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of responsibility, without hurting the convictions of another,” the chancellor of Wawasan Open University said in his speech at its convocation last Thursday. Read more

Democracy and good governance are our core concerns, says Bersih 2.0

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Bersih 2.0, Maria Chin Abdullah, The Malaysian Insight file pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2017.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah urged Jasa to work with civil society organisations to recover all stolen assets that rightfully belong to Malaysians. – The Malaysian Insight file pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2017.

BERSIH 2.0 today told Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz to wake up and realise that Malaysians are not buying his “lies” that the election watchdog’s work threatens the Muslim community.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah slammed Tun Faisal for saying that the organisation’s campaigns and allegations of fraud aimed at 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) were “prime examples of social media threats to the Muslim community” at a conference yesterday.

Cleared of any wrongdoing by the Attorney-General’s Chambers last week of activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, Maria – a Muslim herself – said Jasa should not engage in fake news and irresponsibly spew hatred against civil society organisations. Read more

Can public authorities sue for defamation? — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) recently threatened to take action against the chief minister of Penang. It complained that he had defamed the institution by alleging that it was wrong to charge a state minister.

MACC is a public institution carrying out public functions. Its head is appointed by the King on the advice of the prime minister – which essentially means the government. He holds office at the pleasure of the King – which under our constitutional structure again means the government via the prime minister.

This raises an interesting question. Can a public institution sue for defamation when it is criticised, however harshly?

Read more

‘Balloon girl’ freed of insulting behaviour

Source: Malay Mail Online

Bilqis Hijjas is seen with her lawyer, Latheefa Koya, after today’s decision at the Magistrates' Court in Kuala Lumpur November 27, 2017. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Bilqis Hijjas is seen with her lawyer, Latheefa Koya, after today’s decision at the Magistrates’ Court in Kuala Lumpur November 27, 2017. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Dance producer Bilqis Hijjas walked out beaming today after the Magistrates’ Court acquitted her of “insulting behaviour” for dropping yellow balloons at a 2015 event attended by the prime minister and his wife.

“I am very pleased. It has taken two years to get here. Thankful to my lawyers to fight this long fight.

“The point has been made, symbolic resistance is possible. I hope people will take heart from this,” the ecstatic 38-year-old told reporters outside the courtroom at the Kuala Lumpur court complex here.

In his ruling earlier, magistrate Mohd Faizal Ismail said the prosecution had failed to prove that Bilqis had hurt anyone by her actions, adding that her testimony made previously has been consistent. Read more