Malaysia's news portal Malaysiakini to face contempt suit by Attorney-General on July 13

Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said his company will "definitely be fighting it when we come back here on July 13".
Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said his company will "definitely be fighting it when we come back here on July 13".PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's independent news website Malaysiakini will face contempt of court proceedings over its readers' comments criticising the judiciary, after the Federal Court dismissed its application to set them aside on Thursday (July 2).

The proceedings were initiated by Attorney-General Idrus Harun against Mkini Dotcom - the company that owns Malaysiakini - and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan over comments from readers in an article dated June 9 titled CJ Orders All Courts to be Fully Operational from July 1.

In his affidavit, Tan Sri Idrus cited five comments and said they "clearly meant that the judiciary committed wrongdoings, is involved in corruption, does not uphold justice and compromised its integrity".

He claimed that the news portal erred in facilitating the publication of these comments which were "unwarranted" and "demeaning" attacks on the judiciary.

A seven-man panel chaired by Court of Appeal president, Justice Rohana Yusuf, decided that there was "prima facie" evidence as the comments read out in court were "contemptuous" in nature and Malaysiakini had control of its platform and it could have exercised its responsibility to moderate readers' comments.

Datuk Rohana also said evidence revealed that editors of Malaysiakini review postings of comments on a daily basis, The Edge online newspaper reported.

The news portal had sought to set aside the leave granted to Tan Sri Idrus to initiate the proceedings on the grounds that news organisations are not legally obliged to pre-moderate and censor readers' comments.

The court fixed July 13 for hearing.

Speaking to reporters outside, Mr Gan said he could not comment further on the matter based on the court's order but said that his company will "definitely be fighting it when we come back here on July 13".

This is not the first time Malaysiakini has courted legal troubles.

In 2016, Mr Gan was hauled to court for airing a video related to corruption allegations involving then Prime Minister Najib Razak but the case was later dropped.