"But while one man standing in the road is a nuisance, a mere distraction, 10 men standing together are far harder to ignore. And if those 10 become 100, a thousand, a million, a billion even, they become a force so big, so strong and so united in their common cause that those who espouse hatred will face a very simple choice." : Prime Minister Najib Razak's Oxford speech - 17th May 2011
Wednesday, September 21, ! 2011
The charge against Mat Sabu
Mat Sabu is charged today for criminal defamation. I have not read the exact charge. However from various reports, apparently he is charged for criminally defaming the police, soldiers or their families.
I dont want to say much about the charge as I dont want to be hauled up for making comments while the case is going on and thereby breaching the sub-judice rule (actually I think sub-judice rule is not even applicable in Malaysia, but thats another issue).
We now see it fit to even abolish the ISA and Emergency Ordinance for the sake of freedom and liberties. We now see it fit to repeal the Printing Presses and Publication Act to restore freedom of speech to the people. However we cannot even treat opposing views and different interpretation of historical events or facts with respect and civility.
On this score, I am against all the police reports against Mat Sabu as well as against Professor Zainal Kling for their respective statements and opinions. A mature society and democracy should be able to deal with differing opinions calmly and of course, intellectually.
There are various other people who should be charged for sedition. I dont have to list them out here. But they are not so charged. I wonder what has happened to the investigation on the Christian conspiracy and why it has taken such a long time to complete.
I am not in support of what Mat Sabu has said. I have to make this clear. In fact I am not in love with PAS either. This post is simply about the law.
I know a thing or two about the law of defamation, having done about 10 defamation cases involving some prominent personalities and establishments in my career. This is all I have to say about defamation:
i) you cannot defame the dead under our law. The rationale is the dead cannot have a reputation to protect. Nor can the estate of the de! ad have reputation.
ii) for somebody to be guilty of defaming a person, he/she must have uttered an untrue statement which essentially lower the reputation of that person or put that person in public odium. Now, if Mat Sabu said that Mat Indera was a freedom fighter in the Bukit Kepong event, the AG would have to show how that statement had lowered the reputation of the police/soldiers or their family or put them in public odium.
iii) there must be a specific party or person or group of persons being defamed. Meaning, the statement uttered must refer to, or must be capable to be understood as referring to a specific person or group of persons. For example, if I say Ahmad is a rapist, not all Ahmad can sue me if my statement is untrue. My statement must refer to a certain Ahmad or must be capable of being interpreted to refer to a certain and specific Ahmad. Otherwise all the Ahmads in the world would be allowed to sue me for defamation. So, in this respect, the AG must be able to prove that Mat Sabus statement had indeed referred to or was capable to be interpreted as referring to a specific person or group of persons.
I am sure the AG and his people have given great and in-depth thoughts and consideration to all legal factors before proffering the charge against Mat Sabu.
I wish the AG good luck in this case.
About MeArt Harun believes that he is a failed government experiment, abandoned and left alone to roam the streets after all remedial efforts yielded no positive result. He calls himself a non-governmental organism, practices law for a living and tries very hard to play guitar, sing, race cars and write some stuffs to stay alive.
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