As mentioned in my previous post, one of the greatest risk faced by bloggers is defamation suit. For example, one of the well known Malaysian blogger, Jeff Ooi was sued by NST for defamation in mid of January 2007.
Therefore, I would think it is important to have some basic understanding of the law of defamation in Malaysia.
What is defamation?
To put it in simple term, defamation occurs when a person expresses words that may lower another person’s reputation in the eyes of the public.
There are two types of defamation in Malaysia: libel and slander.
Libel is when such words are expressed in a permanent form which is usually visible to the eye, like in a book, e-mail or picture.
Slander is when such words are expressed in a temporary form, usually when spoken or made by body movements.
What are the laws governing defamation?
In civil cases of defamation, when a private person sues another private person for defamation, the Defamation Act 1957 is applicable.
In criminal cases of defamation, when the state prosecutes a private person for defamation, Section 499 to Section 502 of the Penal Code is applicable.
What is the punishment if you are held guilty of defamation?
Both libel and slander are civil and criminal offences. Thus, a person who is guilty of libel or slander may be sued in court, and also face jail sentence.
In civil cases, the person so defamed will normally sue the maker of the defamatory words for compensation. The amount of the compensation depends on the damage caused to the reputation of the person suing.
In criminal cases, the punishment for defamation is a jail sentence for a maximum of two years, or a fine, or a combination of a jail sentence and a fine [Section 500-502 Penal Code].
We will look at the creteria costituting defamation in my next post.
So please be careful with your comments in my blog….hahahah! (Just joking)