The difference between Dr M and anonymous subscribers - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Malaysiakini : "Therefore, Muhyiddin's government will fall. That is why Muhyiddin (below) will ensure the six MPs are found not guilty,"– former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
COMMENT | In filing an ex-parte application to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, Attorney-General Idrus Harun claimed
that readers' comments “clearly meant that the judiciary committed
wrongdoings, is involved in corruption, does not uphold justice and
compromised its integrity.” "These comments threaten public confidence
in the judiciary and are clearly aimed at tarnishing the administration
of justice by the judiciary”.
This is rather unusual considering the fact that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggested that the judiciary is subservient
to the executive. If anything, what the former prime minister alleged –
that the executive through the judiciary would find not guilty verdicts
– is more damaging to the “public’s trust in the judiciary” than
anything said by anonymous commenters on a news site.
about this for a moment. Here we have a former prime minister who has
had his own controversies with the judiciary. The case of Anwar Ibrahim
is a prime example. Here is a former prime minister who
intimately knows the inner workings of the apparatus of the state – the
judiciary, the security apparatus and the various other enforcement
agencies – and has been accused of manipulating and controlling these
He is now alleging that a former ally turned nemesis
would use these agencies in the same way his critics have accused him of
corrupting the functions of these agencies, to stack the political deck
in his favour.
Now, forget about partisanship, but who do you
think has more influence on public opinion and - let us face facts -
“credibility” with the public? Random commenters on a news thread or a
former prime minister who, before his fall from Umno grace was a
much-feared and respected political operative?
former MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad was so incensed with
what the former prime minister said, he took to Twitter – which is what
people do, these days – and said, "The statement that 'Muhyiddin will
ensure that six MPs will be found not guilty' is a contempt of court! An insult to judges presiding over the cases."
in other words, a former chief commissioner of a powerful and
controversial government agency – for obvious reasons – decries the
former prime minister’s “contempt of court” but the current AG decides
that random anonymous comments, which no doubt most of the rakyat have
no clue about, are grounds to initiate contempt of court proceedings
Now, the AG could, of course, be
oblivious to the comments of the former prime minister. There is a
possibility that he has not seen these comments. There is a possibility
that nobody from his department drew his attention to the comments of
the former prime minister. There is a possibility that since he is
handling the cases mentioned by the former prime minister, he does not
have the time to keep up with current events. Of course, he does
have the time to cite five random anonymous comments in a news article,
which honestly would not have gained much coverage if the AG had not
decided to highlight the article.
The establishment in Malaysia always attempts to curtail speech in the comments sections of news sites. Harapan attempted to do the same but backed off. There
is censorship in Malaysia. The press practises self-censorship when it
comes to news stories and certain opinions as there are laws that
restrict free speech. What we are talking about here is the state’s (PN
or Harapan) attempts to silence the average citizen from expressing his
or her perspective as it relates directly to news reports. Even when it
comes to certain social media postings – Facebook, Instagram, etc –
this is not the same as news stories and the reception they get from
subscribers of news portals.
of these comments are bigoted, racist, lies and not only contribute but
sustain the toxicity in the national discourse. I understand why some
people would be offended by the speech in the comment sections of news
stories. Indeed, many news portals have criteria as to what kind of
speech should be restricted. There are many who would argue -
considering the vile rhetoric - that this is not enough.
However, what the PN government is doing is going for the low-hanging fruit. Silencing the vox populi when
the political elites openly make the same comments or worse. This is
evidence of malfeasances and contempt for the average rakyat.
It appears that there is no credible argument as to why the AG homes in on Malaysiakini
and random comments by anonymous subscribers and pays no attention to
the fact that a former prime minister has said worse and no doubt is a
bigger influence on public opinion. Yet, the AG for some odd reason
believes (by his inaction or ignorance of these comments) that what the
former prime minister said does not tarnish the image of the judiciary.
anything, all this does is further tarnish the reputation of the AG’s
Chambers and does nothing to enhance the reputation of the judiciary in
the minds of rational people.
One last thing, with regards to the attention Hannah Yeoh is getting about what she said and Patrick Teoh being charged in court, has the AG’s Chambers decided what to do about the investigation papers that the police handed in about Zakir Naik?