June 6, 2014
Defamation Suit: Najib vs. Malaysiakini
by Josh Hong@www.malaysiakini.com
Finally, it has dawned on Najib Abdul Razak that Malaysiakini readers are not worth winning over and he is now going for the jugular by serving the news portal a writ of summons over defamation.
This is the man who, upon assuming the highest political office in the country five years ago, conceded that “the days the government knows best are over”, and went on to introduce a host of ‘reformist’ measures.
He also declared unashamedly that he would make Malaysia ‘the best democracy in the world’. But what evolved in the years after has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Najib had promised Malaysians gems but delivered worse than pebbles.
Indeed, he abolished the infamous Internal Security Act, but has kept intact, rather cunningly, the Sedition Act which was supposed to be also repealed.
Had Najib been sincere in any reform agenda, his administration would have been refrained from using the Sedition Act pending its replacement. Instead, Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, the Sri Muda assemblyperson, is still fighting his case at the Federal Court, while Teresa Kok became the latest victim over her, okay, not-so-tasteful Chinese New Year video clip.
Much as I detest the arbitrary law, it remains morally outrageous to see the UMNO-friendly individuals – from Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin, Ridhuan Tee to the Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) clowns – above it. The shameless double standard only debunks further the myth of national unity as Najib has mendaciously pledged.
Still, the mainstream newspapers praised him to the skies back in April 2009 as if Malaysia’s elevation to a full democracy was nigh. Just look at Tay Tian Yan of Sin Chew Daily who wrote unabashedly of Najib as being “confident and capable… ready to be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians”. Yes, go laugh your head off before reading on.
But Najib’s desperate move only exposes his vulnerability within the party. When he sought to exert his authority as party president and prime minister by removing Ahmad Said from office, the former Terengganu Chief Mminister pulled off a last-minute coup over, amusingly, his daughter’s wedding.
Prior to that, Najib had come under enormous pressure from the ultras within the party and a vengeful Mahathir Mohamad from without. His inability to rein in Ahmad Said is just another indicator of his untenable position, and so livid was he that he decided to punish Malaysiakini for his own failings.
Waging war with all parties except…
Truth be told, it is UMNO’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia that has been churning out defamatory stories and waging war with all parties except its own political masters.
For DAP, is it ‘a Christian agenda’; for PKR, it is ‘DAP’s poodle’; for PAS, it is ‘selling out the Malays’, for Nurul Izzah Anwar, it is ‘apostasy’; for Ambiga Sreenevasan, it is ‘a threat to Islam’; for Anwar Ibrahim, it is ‘sexual deviation’; for Malaysiakini, it is ‘the habit of defaming others’ and, for peace-loving Malaysians who took part in the Bersih rallies, what else but a bunch of ‘samseng’ who came with ‘knives, guns and stones with an intention to kill’!
If there is one person who should feel the righteous wrath at being insulted, humiliated and defamed on a daily basis, it should be the ordinary Malaysian who is yearning for change but is made to suffer all the innuendos and racist statements at the hands of Utusan and other UMNO-controlled media, on which Najib has been conspicuous by his silence.
And Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK – right) has the nerve to accuse Malaysians of humbuggery in acquiescing to Anwar’s lawsuits against those who have defamed him.
I am pretty certain RPK has sold his soul to the devil and now chosen to see only what he wants to see. Anwar, or any potential rivals to UMNO for that matter, is compelled to resort to court to clear his name precisely because his right of reply is persistently denied and even suppressed by the powers-that-be.
By contrast, not only that Malaysiakini has afforded Najib a right of reply, but UMNO has also the entire state machinery to rebut and even distort whatever that is reported by online portals. Can RPK who is purportedly wise and discerning not see the crucial difference?
Be that as it may, the public should welcome Najib’s lawsuit, for it will once and for all shatter his image as a pseudo-democrat. I would say: Bring it on, Najib, but make sure you will not be dodging critical questions in court. After all, it is you and your government that will be put on trial for the whole world to see, your advantage of having some malleable judges on your side notwithstanding.
*JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.