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Suit against Singapore minister to be heard in Malaysia after lawyers group wins appeal

Lawyers for Liberty is seeking a declaration that Singapore cannot enforce its law on Malaysians as this would amount to extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Staff Writers
1 minute read
Singapore Home Minister K Shanmugam. Photo: AFP
Singapore Home Minister K Shanmugam. Photo: AFP

The Court of Appeal has reinstated a suit by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) against the Singapore government over the city-state's attempt to enforce a draconian internet law against the Malaysian rights group.

Three panel judges today overturned a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision in 2020 striking out LFL’s suit against Singapore Home Minister K Shanmugam, paving the way for the suit to be heard in Malaysia.

LFL's suit revolves around Singapore's issuance of a correction direction under its Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), after the group published shocking details of instances of prisoners being executed in a brutal and unlawful manner at Singapore's Changi Prison.

Shanmugam had instructed LFL to amend the statement published on its website, a move condemned by the group as "outrageous".

"Singapore has no business interfering with the freedom of speech of Malaysian citizens making statements within our own country," LFL had said.

LFL then proceeded to file a civil suit against Shanmugam, which failed after it was struck down.

The suit sought a court declaration that Singapore has no jurisdiction to enforce its law on LFL.

The appeals court decision today means that Shanmugam must now appear in the Malaysian court to fight the suit.

The panel judges today were Yaacob Sam, Vazeer Alam Mydin and Mohd Nazlan Ghazali.

LFL was represented by Gurdial Singh, Latheefa Koya, Shahid Adli and Abraham Au, while Suzana Atan acted as counsel for the government.