Friday, January 19, 2007

The Silence of the Bloggers

I wrote on bloggers getting sued by the local media a few days back.

The news is now out in the open. Top Malaysian blogger, Jeff Ooi and former editor of the Malay Mail, Ahiruddin Attan (Rocky's Bru)have been served writ of summons for libel and defamation by the New Straits Times (NST) and other related individuals.

The NST, being substantially owned by UMNO, the party of the Prime Minister, is unlikely to have taken this 'momentous' decision to sue local bloggers without at least the tacit approval of the latter. In fact the grapevine has it that the plaintiff's counsel took some two months reviewing and researching the two blogs prior to the issuance of the suit. The suit hence came hot on the heels of warnings to local bloggers by deputy ministers.

I have stated on many occasions that Jeff served as my inspiration to blog almost 2 years ago. However, that doesn't mean that I agreed with all his views all the time. Differences in opinion is however, no excuse for the restriction on freedom of expression. Hence, without going into the merits of the case, the Governments overt attempts to threaten Malaysia bloggers with punitive punishments instead of reasoned arguments are abhorrent.

Of course, there's the other question of whether NST's attempt in silencing the bloggers will backfire on both the NST as well as the Government themselves? As it stands, the international news agencies are already giving prominence to the story.

In addition, within the 13 and 40 blog posts cited by the plaintiffs as defamatory in Jeff and Rocky's blogs respectively, contains statement of which their factual nature need to be contested in the courts. Hence, when these points of facts are raised and challenged in the courts, would it embarrass the plaintiffs and the Government further in such a high profile case?

More interestingly, now that the ruling party-owned NST has shown its hands in attempting to silence Jeff, will he, a self-professed card-carry Gerakan member, be willing stand as an opposition candidate for a Parliamentary seat in the next general elections?
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