Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bar Council wants PM to withdraw defamation suit

bar council

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council wants Prime Minister Najib Razak and Umno to withdraw their defamation suit against Malaysiakini and its editors.

Its president Christopher Leong said instead they should engage those whose comments were published by the news portal.

“The Prime Minister should take the opportunity to reply or rebut any adverse or incorrect comments made by members of the public,” he said in a statement.

Leong said in a free democratic society, those who held office in government and who were responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism.

“Any attempt to stifle or fetter such criticism amounts to political censorship of the most insidious and objectionable kind.”

He noted this was the first time a Malaysian Prime Minister had sued a member of the news media for purported defamation.

“The Prime Minister is in effect suing members of the news media for the views and comments of the public to whom the Prime Minister is accountable and answerable. This sets a bad precedent and sends the wrong message.

“Every public official is accountable to the people who have entrusted him or her with a position of public office and responsibility.

“The duties of good governance and accountability should demand the public official be able to endure the full brunt of free speech.” he said.