Don’t Pander to the interests of political parties,High Court Judge tells Utusan Malaysia and the Media

January 22, 2012

Don’t Pander to the interests of political parties,High Court Judge tells Utusan Malaysia and the Media

by Zurairi AR(01-21-13)@

A High Court judge today outlined the need for independence of the judiciary and a freeReading Utusan press that did not pander to the interests of political parties, when he ruled against an UMNO-owned newspaper in a defamation suit brought by the Opposition leader.

When delivering his decision in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s suit against Utusan Malaysia, Justice Datuk VT Singham also called for freedom of the press and professionalism in the media industry.

“A judge deciding a case should do so without any influence … This court must do what is right,” Singham said in his preface to the decision here.“The chair (in which) I am seated is sacred and I will continue to maintain its sacredness.”

The judge highlighted the importance of the public’s confidence in the Judiciary, stating that the courts could not act without it.“Judges are not party to the state’s power struggles, and that they do not fight for their own power but rather to keep democracy intact.“When judges do law, not just the parties, not just the law, but judges themselves stand on trial,” Singham said, quoting from the Harvard Law Review journal.

Anwar at High CourtOpposition Leader Anwar (picture) today won a defamation suit against the newspaper that had in January last year allegedly accused him of being a gay rights proponent.

The judiciary must be completely detached, judicial, impartial and independent in administering the law, according to the judge.

A judge’s decision must also based on facts that emerge during a trial and not speculation and personal sentiments, Singham said.

Singham also called on the press to practise balanced reporting by obtaining the views of both the proponents and opponents of an issue.

He stressed that it was important for journalists, editors and publishers to “take great care” before publishing any stories that might harm the reputation of an individual, and reckless articles with insinuations and claims without verification must be avoided.

According to Singham, the press must continue practising their trade professionally and with responsibility, and not pander to political and commercial interests. “The media must … not be allowed to be used as an instrument to publish lies of misleading articles,” Singham said.

The judge also asked for the media to not infringe or encroach into the judicial domain through a “trial by media”, and suggested an examination of its legal situation amid the increase in legal suits against publications.

To solve the problem of legal suits, he mooted a self-regulatory body that would allow the public to lodge complaints against the press and facilitate conciliation among aggrieved parties.

Anwar’s counsel, N. Surendran, applauded Singham’s statement after the case, describing it as “thorough, searing, and passionate.”“The judge has taken pains in order to look into the responsibilities of journalists … (His statement) will go way beyond the facts of this case itself,” Surendran said.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Pander to the interests of political parties,High Court Judge tells Utusan Malaysia and the Media

  1. It is time for the Media to be responsible for whatever they put out to the public. The High Court Judge has made it plainly clear that irresponsible media cannot be tolerated when he ruled against the mouthpiece of UMNO, Utusan Malaysia. Well done. Both Lawyer Rosli Dahlan and Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim took on the papers and won. –Din Merican

  2. Lawyers write one long sentence paragraph that makes interpretation scary.
    Journalist write one paragraph of many sentences to diffuse interpretation.
    Engineers then rearrange the many sentences to where they want it to end.

    All that is needed is a high tech lie-truth detector to issue a simple verdict.
    This way the judiciary gets to clear back log of cases, media stop sensationalizing, and engineers spend more time building better bridges/rails going right places.

    and the winners are ordinary folks.

  3. Good ruling. Media should be free from any political parties and be more responsible in their reporting. Utusan and TV3 especially should stop making up crap as news.

  4. Finally? The Judges are going to do what they are supposed to do , dispense with Justice without fear, independently? Or is he the only one who gets this?

  5. NO Mathew, you are worng. It does not take a mere lie detector. It is more than that. Lives are at stake to leave it to the lie detectors and to leave it to a Judiciary made of men who are slaves to the Executive instead of being bold and courages and fearless. Too many lives are at stake here to be flippant.

  6. Utusan and TV 3 are owned by UMNO and their very existence serves to further the UMNO cause and to skew the Malaysian mind into believing that what they publish are the gospel truth and to futher prop up UMNO and its leaders. Otherwise why did UMNO buy Utusan and TV 3 and why no other political party are allowed a broadcasting and publishing license. Their editors are there for a purpose and are hired to write the headlines and use language bordering on the edge of defamation. Try to decipher Utusan headlines or TV 3 berita terkini flash ads.

    The Judge should admonish the editors of Utusan and if such acts are repeated will push for a higher fine and punitive damages and also make recommendations for the revocation of their publishing permits by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  7. That’s right Matthew, you said it with the wisdom of what or how a judge should handle his judgement, avoiding verbosity – straight to the point, like the Doctor who uses his instruments with clinical precision…..all else in deep silence with a prayer in the heart in such a ‘ sacred ‘ performance of duty….sensationalizing is for the politician !

  8. In Malaysia, the fourth estate is wholly part of the second, so their role is to do whatever the second wants including the dirty work they don’t want to do themselves.

  9. Datuk Singham’s days are numbered. Thank God for GE13. or is he due for retirement?
    “Judges are not party to the state’s power struggles, and that they do not fight for their own power but rather to keep democracy intact” Very true and nice words, but this is something that is not in the vocab of most of the judiciary, again they are looking at job security.

  10. I thought judges should be fair and not take sides in any politics. Why is he using his verdict to deliver a speech about free press and independence. This judge is so openly politically partisan, pro Pakatan. He should be sacked!

  11. witht the judgement againt Utusan, does it mean, the balance is truly tipping towards PR now? Rosli Dahlan received apologiies from the Star and Utusan. The UM don published findings that BN will not improve its current status quo, the police allowed KL112 to go smoothly, A Kadir Jasin is persuading Anwar to exorcise his ghost in UMNO….i wont be surprised there will be more stories favorable to PR in the next few weeks…….

  12. YA Datuk VT Singham, is the most senior of the High Court Judges and a Barrister-at-law in Licoln’s Inn and seriously Not celup. Anwar also won his case against his ex-tennis traitor in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

    I think the Judiciary is coming to their senses and gaining independence, but the AGC can’t for the moment. The evidence remains ‘spotty’.

    In this age of digital communication, monopoly of propaganda is no longer possible. As the digital divide narrows, the main-stream methods of disseminating information by the printed word becomes constricted by the sheer volume of contrarian views and citizen journalists in the cyber domain. The outright lies, deception and cynical manipulation of irresponsible-sycophantic journalism for political hegemony no longer applies.

    In the long run, Utusan and it’s ilk are destined to end up as unread waste paper, appreciated only by the ‘paper-lama’ recyclers.

  13. From my perspective, it appears that the learned judge, that made his impartial judgement in this case. He ignored the contemptuous insituations made by parties who had vested interest in this case. I wish he would address those allegations, at a later time.

  14. Its amazing, the Penang botanical monkey Tok Dik pasted can read! They have progressed much faster than our societies. Not too long ago they will run off with my slippers ……..later they were making it in the open…so democratic, didn”t even ask peanuts from those watching. They have learned. Now they read papers.!

    “Caesar is home” said Caesar the chimp from return of the planet of the apes as he led his fellow chimps back into the woods.

  15. Tok Dik the botanical monkey has learned to read and fend for itself because it doesn’t have UMNO telling it what and what not to learn.

    Say No to UMNO’S hegemony over malaysian politics!

  16. “The heaviest restriction upon the freedom of public opinion is not the official censorship of the Press, but the unofficial censorship by a Press which exists not so much to express opinion as to manufacture it.” Dorothy Sayers

  17. Wither media like Harakah,Roket and Suara Keadilan,mkini ? Different rules apply? Shouldn’t the Judge’s call apply across the board to all publications for the consumption of the general public.The Quran says O you who believe,why do you say what you yourself do not do?

    I call it the hypocrisy of mankind.

    • @anakbangsamalaysia at 9:55am,

      Probably Harakah, Roket and Suara Keadilan do NOT pander to the interests of PAS, DAP and PKR respectively or the judge could have been grossly misreported as to imply that those 3 groupings are not recognised as political parties.

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