So I am a bit late in blogging on poor Jeff Ooi's and Ahirudin Attan’s predicament, where two of Malaysia’s most influential, if not the two most influential, bloggers have been taken to court for libel. OK, I blame it on my being away ... er ... looking for Mr X ;-)
On the sorry saga, some have written to malaysiakini questioning what’s the bloody big fuss about the two being sued – live by the sword, then die by the sword.
While a couple attempted to preempt any questioning of their motives or allegiances by emphasizing that they are avid readers-fans of Screenshots, they, like one particular anti-Jeff Ooi’s blogsite, said the NST personalities have a right to take court action against Jeff Ooi.
What’s the big deal? Why should Jeff Ooi or Ahirudin Attan be unique to the extent that they should be exempt from the defamation action?
My take is that neither Jeff Ooi nor Ahiridin Attan is unique. But what is unique has been a set of circumstances, as follows:
(1) one particular plaintiff has been conducting a vendetta against Jeff Ooi as far back as, admittedly limited by my memory, the Screenshots’ ‘oil & water’ saga;
(2) Rocky’s Bru was the blog that brought out the luxury yacht exposé. That infuriated the PM who strenuously denied* he had ordered the boat;
* I believe the PM didn’t order the yacht but I wonder who did? I love to have one to participate in the Monsoon Cup and get a chance to rub shoulders with high society
(3) the non-scandal of the yacht was followed by bloggers’ revelation of nasi kandar in Perth while Malaysians were struggling against the ravages of the floods in southern Malaysia;
(4) then there is the new exposé of the luxury jet;
(5) bloggers including myself have been mocking the PM’s lackluster performance and cakap ta’serupa bikin conduct – a Bao Gong redux that’s really an insult to the good Chinese magistrate.
AAB is in reality very thin skin. He cannot take too much criticism, unlike the PMs of western nations. He doesn't seem to understand that criticism of a PM or any elected representatives or non-elected public servants is a natural outcome of a democratic system, an outcome that he should be the 'first' to protect and uphold.
Alas, such an autocratic disdainful attitude is not unique to AAB but to most Asian leaders who would voice democratic principles but believe those principles don’t apply to them. Once elected, Malaysian leaders have a nasty belief in their ‘raja-ness’, expecting the usual daulat’s and ampu tuanku’s.
Add some extra spices like a few sycophants, court jesters and who-else’s and soon the utterly naked Emperor would be walking boldly down the cat walk, assured by the inner-most coterie that he’s in full royal regalia.
“Off with their heads, Tuanku?” simpered the coterie in gleeful anticipation.
“Do it straightaway” his Royal Elegance responded.
Indeed, malaysiakini reported that AAB has accused Malaysians [meaning bloggers] of using the Internet to spread lies about him.
Well, as the democratically-elected [I hope he still remembers this] PM, he has the right to refute those lies.
Then he did the disgraceful thing – he came out in open support of the defamation suit against two Malaysian bloggers by the NST people. During a visit to the UK, he was reported to have said: "They [meaning Jeff and Ahirudin] cannot hope to cover themselves or hide from the laws."
Why does the PM of a nation interfere with a civil suit between two private parties, though admittedly one has close links with him?
malaysiakini reader AM Ubaidah S wrote significantly: “… there may also be legal reasons why Pak Lah should refrain from commenting on this matter. Australian journalist Michael Backman once commented in his book Inside Knowledge said that (in his view) Malaysian courts are actually quite independent (contrary to popular opinion), but have this annoying habit of typically passing judgement in favour of or in line with what they perceive are the government's desires; the flip-flop on Anwar Ibrahim's conviction and subsequent release on appeal being the case in point.”
I believe AAB has been persuaded (or if you wish 'misled') into believing that unsympathetic bloggers would be detrimental to his rule. That the UMNO-linked NST is involved is significant - it's a case of killing a couple of chicken to frighten the monkeys.