Friday, January 26, 2007

Bloggers under fire!

I'm sure most of us in the blog world in Malaysia have heard of the lawsuits filed by NST and some of their senior management against Jeff Ooi and Rocky. Tony has blogged about it here in his personal blog and I've been following this issue closely. Given that this is not specifically an 'educational' issue, I think we've both refrained from discussing it in this blog. But I think it's high time that I flesh out some of the pertinent issues in regards to these lawsuits.

First of all, let me say right off the bat that I am categorically against the actions taken by NST and its senior management against Jeff and Rocky. It's a classic case of David(s) versus Goliath, the resources of the NSTP group against two individual bloggers. Why didn't NST also sue BBC over the story that a column which was written by Brendan Pereira was actually plagiarized from a Mitch Albom column? (which from my understanding, forms part of the case against Jeff) It's clearly a case of not only wanting to muzzle these two bloggers but also to send a strong signal to the larger blog community to 'take note' of what they write.

What impact will these cases have on the blogosphere in Malaysia? I thought about the possibility of some of our private colleges or public universities suing myself and Tony for some of our posts, which in some people's opinion, might be considered 'defamatory'. Might a blogger also be sued for posting a negative review of a restaurant, or for saying that he or she is frustrated by the actions (or inactions) of a politician over a certain matter, or for pointing out the deficiencies of a certain product?

Perhaps what is more ironic about this situation is that it's usually individuals who sue newspapers and journalists for making defamatory remarks about these individuals in the journalists' newspapers, not the other way round! For a short and insightful opinion on this, please read Azmi Sharom's letter in Malaysiakini.

I wish Jeff and Rocky all the best as do most of our readers, I'm sure.

But if there's any good that comes out of these cases, it is that:

1) Civil society and members of the public have and will continue to 'mobilize' in response to this issue. There's nothing like an interesting story of the small guy taking on the giant corporation to incense some members of the public and to capture the attention of the public at large.

2) That future lawsuits against bloggers will not be as likely given the negative 'press' that has been given to the NST following the lawsuits. If there is growing momentum to 'boycott' the NST as a sign of protest, the already flagging sales of that newspaper might be further affected (as well as the group's bottom line, of course).

(This is quite sad since I know that there are good journalists at the NST who just want to get on with their jobs and write good and insightful stories / columns / pieces)

Hopefully, Tony and I won't be sued anytime in the near future. But if we do, hopefully some of our readers will come to our aid! :)


Anonymous said...

I think there's "a higher power that-be" behind NST suit against Jeff and Rocky. It's a message to bloggers, saying "shut up or else....". And who would be there to instigate, encourage and pressure the suit except the Barisan National government? It's a tacit way of punishing anti government bloggers. Someone just sense it and smell very fishy.

Anonymous said...

Not familiar with law but just for hypothetical question: A blogger should not be sued for posting a negative review of a restaurant (opinion-based) but should blogger be taken any legal action of he/she claimed that the restaurant used rat as chicken served as food without evidence saying so (falsehood)?

Anonymous said...

blog is for our opinion,so why should they sue them?goverment should accept critics from their people,and by that way they can produce a better management

Anonymous said...

they thought they can copycat'
southern islander ways,
which practically
shut out of freedom of expression.
No way, hear me out!
Esp. these blogger are expressing rakyats' voices,

Anonymous said...

Kian Meng,

On the issue of suit against bloggers, i guest there are several issues that we may want to consider.

1. Defamation - what is defamation? Is it an offence in this country? Or exposed one person to a civil suit? What are the defences available?
2. Freedom of speech - What is freedom of speech? Is the any limitation for freedom to speech? Or can anyone can say anthing about someone else?

Anonymous said...

ah peng,

yes defamation is a civil offence. i blogged about it here.

as for freedom of speech i believe it's entrenched in Article 10 of our constitution. but of course in our country, our constitution is not the grundnorm of the country and is subject to internal security laws. our constitutional rights have never been upheld. most syariah lawyers also believe syariah law supercedes the constitution. so with so much confusion as to which is the supreme law of the land, a constitutional argument is often a weak one.

hope it helps! :)

susanloone said...

do also keep yourselves updated with the bloggers united official page:

Anonymous said...

Barisan Nasional yang menggalakkan teknologi maklumat adalah Barisan Nasional yang sama yang menyerang blogger dan lain lain aktiviti siber yang berkaitan. Mereka seharusnya menampar muka mereka sendiri.

Anonymous said...

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Indonesia is one country that continued to improve the quality of education. In the future, expect the quality of Indonesian people can compete on the world stage.
If you want to see the state of education in Indonesia, you can visit
hopefully can provide some feedback about the state of education in Indonesia