Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Malaysiakini fails in review bid to overturn contempt conviction

A seven-man Federal Court bench says the arguments brought up today were raised in the previous committal proceedings.

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A seven-member panel of the Federal Court today dismissed a review application by Malaysiakini to overturn a Federal Court decision finding the online news portal guilty of contempt over comments by its readers.

The panel, led by justice Zaleha Yusof, held that the arguments raised in today’s review proceedings by Malaysiakini’s counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar had been raised in the committal proceedings before the previous Federal Court panel.

She said the court was not persuaded by the submissions raised by the counsel on issues pertaining to allegations of a breach of natural justice.

Zaleha added that since the matter was a public interest case, the court would not make any order as to costs.

The other judges presiding were Zabariah Mohd Yusof, Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, Mary Lim Thiam Suan, Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal, Rhodzariah Bujang and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.

The court proceedings were conducted online.

On Feb 19 last year, in a 6-1 majority decision, a seven-member Federal Court bench led by Court of Appeal president Rohana Yusuf found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt of court for facilitating the publication of five readers’ comments and fined the company RM500,000.

Mkini Dotcom paid the fine.

The Federal Court, on June 17, 2020, allowed the attorney-general’s ex-parte application to obtain leave to commence committal proceedings against Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, the company operating the Malaysiakini news portal, and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan over its readers’ comments on an article published by Malaysiakini on June 9, 2020, entitled “CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1”.

The Federal Court, however, found Gan not guilty of contempt of court.

In the review application filed only by Mkini Dotcom, the company sought to set aside the earlier Federal Court decision and for a re-hearing of the contempt proceedings.

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