Malaysian News Agency Fined $123,000 over Reader Comments

The Malaysia Federal Court has fined the Malaysiakini news agency  $123,000 for contempt over readers’ comments critical of the judiciary, citing a first in its 21-year existence.

According to a report by the news agency, the court found Malaysiakini liable for its readers’ posted comments, which were taken down when the news organization was contacted by the police. 

The court found the organization’s editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, not guilty of the charge.

Judge Rohana Yusuf who led the bench said that “The impugned statement (comments) has gone far and wide locally and internationally and the content is spurious and reprehensible in nature, containing the allegation of corruption.”

The judge also said that the RM500,000 (US$123,000) fine was appropriate and that it should be paid within three days from Monday. 

Gan in response to the verdict said, “It will have a tremendous chilling impact on discussions of issues of public interest and it delivers a body blow to our continual campaign to fight corruption, among others.”

Gan added, “I am terribly disappointed. What crime has Malaysiakini committed that we are forced to pay RM500,000 when there are individuals charged with abuse of power for millions and billions who are walking free?” 

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