The Federal Court agreed to consider the contempt of court proceedings against Malaysiakini over the remarks posted by its users on the news site claimed to have been in defiance of the judiciary. The seven-man jury of the Federal Court headed by Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Chairman of the Court of Appeal, stated that there was prima facie reason to continue.
When describing whether there was a prima facie argument or a question for Malaysiakini to respond, Rohana said the comments of the five readers read out in court today were “contemptuous” of nature and Malaysiakini had the comments reported prima facie or on the surface because they had appeared on the news portal.
Among other items, Rohana said the judges noticed that the evidence revealed that Malaysiakini encourages the posting of comments; that its editorial policy permits comments to be published, discarded and modified; that the Malaysiakini had withdrawn the five comments after being warned by the police; and that the Malaysiakini editors are monitoring the articles regularly.
Citing Section 114A of the Proof Act, Rohana also said the judges noticed that Malaysiakini was believed to have released the five comments in statute, but also highlighted the prospect of rebutting the assumption.
As regards the inability of the Attorney General to give a show cause notice to Malaysiakini before requesting the courts to begin the contempt of court proceedings, the Federal Court observed that this inability to comply with the requirements needed by statute was “not serious” or “prejudicial” to Malaysiakini and its editor-in – chief, Steven Gan.
While Malaysiakini had claimed that the Attorney General would have sued at the High Court for the contempt of court proceedings rather than trying it directly at the Federal Court, Rohana said the panel of seven judges decided that the Federal Court was the appropriate place to start the proceedings.
While justifying why the Federal Court could launch the contempt of court proceedings, Rohana said this was due to the existence of the remarks of the five writers who were supposed to be in contempt of the courts concerning the judiciary as a whole, which she said included even the Federal Court’s chief justice. The appeal is hereby unanimously rejected on these grounds,” Rohana said, pointing to Malaysiakini ‘s offer to set aside the previous order of the Federal Court granting leave for the trial to proceed.
Today’s other panel judges include Malaya Chief Judge Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Sabah Chief Judge and Sarawak Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli.
In addition to this, Malaysiakini had submitted an appeal last Thursday to set aside the leave given to continue by the Federal Court for contempt of court proceedings.