The Federal Court today sentenced Malaysiakini’s operator Mkini Dot Com Sdn Bhd to a fine of RM500,000 for contempt over its facilitation of five readers’ comments against the judiciary on the news portal’s website but found its Editor, Steven Gan, not guilty.
Today (19 Feb), Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf delivered the decision by the panel of seven judges for the fine of RM500,000 to be paid within three days from Monday.
“In meting out the sentence that shall be imposed, we first take into account the apology that has been extended by the respondent and the fact that the respondents had cooperated both with the police and the courts… The impugned statements had gone both far and wide both locally and internationally and the contents published are spurious and reprehensible in nature and it also involves allegations of corruption which are all false and untrue…
Hence the first respondent (Malaysiakini) is found guilty of contempt of court, the second respondent (Stevan Gan) in our view cannot be held guilty for facilitating the publication,” the judge said after the panel stood down to deliberate on the sentencing.
Steven Gan, who is the news portal’s Editor-in-Chief, was also present in the courtroom today when the Federal Court delivered its decision. He expressed his disappointment with the Federal Court’s decision today for the “chilling effect” it would have on freedom of expression in Malaysia.
“We were very disappointed with the decision. The decision flies in the face of the fast-changing new media landscape in this country, will have a tremendous chilling effect on discussions of issues of public interest and it delivers a body blow to our campaign, our continual campaign to fight corruption among others,” he told reporters, adding that the approach to be taken should be to educate Malaysians instead of “punishing” media organisations for comments made by readers.
On the next course of action that Malaysiakini will take, Gan said, “We will be asking all of our supporters to help us, so there will be a donation campaign to help support us to raise the money that we need to pay for the fine”.
Following the Federal Court decision, Malaysiakini’s news website is also now in grey mode.
For context, the five comments were posted under a Malaysiakini news report on 9 June 2020 titled ‘CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1’. A quick check shows that the comments are still at the bottom of the article that was published last year.
The portal previously said it was not aware of the five offensive comments as no readers had reported these comments and the comments did not carry any of the “suspected words” that its filter could detect, further noting that the editorial team had immediately reviewed the comments upon being alerted by the police and removed the comments at 12.57pm the same day.
Those who wish to contribute to the ‘Defend Malaysiakini Fund’ can do so at:
Account name Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd
Account no 5142 5351 6714 (Maybank)
Swift Code MBBEMYKL
Branch address: Dataran Maybank, Level 1 Tower A, Dataran Maybank, 59000 Kuala Lumpur.
Alternatively, you can also donate using your credit card by calling Malaysiakini at +603 7770 0000 or through Boost e-wallet (scan QR code below). They will also publish mid-day daily updates on contributions.