Stop filing defamation suits against critics, public officials told

Hebahkan !!!

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has urged public officials to cease filling defamation suits against their critics.

In a statement, C4 urged public officials who have initiated strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) against their critics to immediately withdraw them.

SLAPP are usually defamation suits that are intended to burden vocal citizens with the legal process, thus draining their time, money, and energy and essentially punishing them for exercising their right to fair comment, C4 said.

It also has the knock-on effect of silencing wider society by sending the message that speaking up comes at a cost.

C4 also urged Parliament to enact anti-SLAPP laws that allow for an early dismissal of such cases and penalise those who abuse the legal process.

In the same statement, C4 welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss a defamation suit against former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli.

It was described by C4 as “a landmark case which reasserts a citizen’s right to express freely on matters of public interest.”

“The Federal Court decision comes at an especially crucial time for Malaysia, where now, more than ever, Malaysians of all backgrounds must be supported when speaking out against injustice.”

On April 21, the Federal Court quashed the appeal by the National Feedlot Corp (NFCorp) and its chairman, Salleh Ismail, against the dismissal of their defamation suit against Rafizi over alleged misuse of government funds. Salleh is the husband of former minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

According to Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed, who chaired a three-member bench, Rafizi had successfully raised the defence of fair comment to defeat the suit.

He said the PKR vice-president had also relied on certain undisputed bank documents to make an honest opinion about NFC and Salleh.

Azahar added that there was also no malice on the part of Rafizi and he was entitled to make a fair comment, for which he could not be held liable.

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