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Malaysian Top Blogger Was Held Liable For Defamation

March 29th, 2008 · 7 Comments

raja-petra.gif 

On 26 March 2008, the famous blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, founder of www.malaysia-today.net was ordered by the court to pay a sum of RM4 million and the group chief editor and editor of an opposition party’s newsletters were also ordered to pay RM3 million to the Univeristy Utara Malaysia and its vice-chancellor, Dr Nordin Kardi, as general damages for publishing libellous statement on his website two years ago.

It is notable that such judgment was obtained in the absence of the defendants, which is commonly known as judgment in default of appearance (JID). (For your information, banks always obtain JID against the default borrowers as most of the case the borrowers did not turn up in court.)

As described vividly by Raja Petra, “Nordin Kadir’s win does not reflect any justice. He went to the football field and our team did not show up so he shot all the goals by himself.” 

Based on the Rules of the High Court 1980 such JID may be set aside by the judge as this is a judgment obtained without the merit of the case being heard. However, the defendant shall make the application to set aside within 30 days from the date the judgment was made.

The libellous statement accusing Dr Nordin for plagiarism was written by a former student representative. As such, one of the good defence is to prove that the statement that Raja Petra published was true. It would be very interesting to hear the arguement when the case is brought to trial, indeed.

On another hand, Dr Nordin expressed that the judgment will be a landmark decision against cyber misconduct. He said “I hope others who might have been defamed by cyber misconduct would consider legal action against the wrongdoers. I also hope the High court decision would serve as a deterrent against any attempt to invade the integrity of an individual or an institution.”

I would think that this is quite common especially in the country where citizens are more aware about their legal rights, e.g. in US, there are so many cases where bloggers are sued for defamation. As mentioned in my previous post, one of the largest risk faced by blogger is defamation suit.

However, I will feel very uneasy when seeing the bloggers being prosecuted under the “draconian law” be it under ISA or law of sedition.

I think the local insurance company should have a new product to cover the risk of bloggers from being sued as the amount of bloggers are increasing day by day, which means the market is expanding everyday. As a blogger, would you choose to pay some money to transfer my risk to the insurance company? 

Click on the below links to read related news:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/3/27/courts/20763017&sec=courts

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Wednesday/Frontpage/20080326200609/Article/index_html

http://tunkuaisha.blogspot.com/2008/03/raja-petra-ordered-to-pay-rm2-million.html

http://asia.news.yahoo.com/080327/afp/080327161825hightech.html

Tags: Bloggers' Rights

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Power of Attorney // Mar 31, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Hey Eddie nice blog you have here. I find the defamation posts particularly relevant. I’ve never seen a criminal defamation case in action. I mentioned you in my last post at:
    http://leavethebar.blogspot.com/2008/03/day-i-fell-asleep-at-office.html

  • 2 Eddie Law // Apr 2, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Hi Power of Attorney – thanks for your link. Yes, it is rare to see criminal defamation case around.

  • 3 Irene // Apr 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Hello Eddie, well… actually what I’m going to post is unrelated to this post, just something to share with you and it would be interesting ot know if we have such thing in Malaysia or not.
    http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

    As you know bloggers like to take photos of things that they came across, such as food when they dine but many times we got stopped for taking photos because they said that it’s some what a business secret and so on blah blah… Kinda fed up sometimes hehehe… I mean like if it’s a secret then don’t show it to the public! I’m sure this will be an interesting topic to discuss :)

  • 4 ServiceB4Self // Apr 8, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I think there could be another reason why RPK did not defend the suit.

    Could bankruptcy be one of them?

  • 5 streamyx4us // Apr 25, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Thanks. Good info.

  • 6 The 1st Malaysian blogger charged with sedition // May 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    [...] suit for defamation in 26 March 2008 and he was ordered by the court to pay millions compensation. See here for more [...]

  • 7 Global Voices Advocacy » Defamation & the Malaysian Blogger // Sep 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    [...] is no stranger to defamation. In March 2008, RPK was ordered to pay RM4 mill (about US$1.1 mill) for publishing defamatory statements against [...]

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