Malaysian court strikes out Lawyers for Liberty lawsuit against Shanmugam

The High Court of Malaysia has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the country's rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) against Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam.

The lawsuit was filed by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) on Jan 24 this year, in response to a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) direction issued to it on Jan 22.

At the time, the direction had required the NGO to insert a correction notice on top of an article published on its website, which the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said contained "untrue, baseless and preposterous allegations about judicial executions conducted in Changi Prison".

As the LFL had not served its court papers on Mr Shanmugam, and discontinued its applications to renew the papers due to reasons that the outfit did not make known, the Malaysian High Court on Sept 21 struck out the lawsuit.

In a statement yesterday, the MHA called the LFL's legal action "baseless". "The LFL's conduct in commencing its legal action, publicising the same, and then failing to prosecute the matter, leading to its striking out by the High Court of Malaysia, is consistent with how LFL has conducted itself so far," said the MHA.

"LFL made sensational allegations against the Singapore Prison Service, and the treatment of prisoners, and promised to put forward evidence. But nothing was put forward to substantiate its wild and completely untrue allegations."

The LFL had claimed in a statement on Jan 16 that Singapore prison officers were instructed to kick the back of a prisoner's neck with great force to break it, if the rope breaks during a hanging.

The Pofma office also issued correction directions to three parties that shared the allegations - Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, The Online Citizen website and Yahoo Singapore.

The Straits Times contacted LFL for comment but did not receive a reply as of press time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysian court strikes out Lawyers for Liberty lawsuit against Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe