Monday, January 29, 2007

Ikan bilis-ness of chooks?

Some readers have questioned my arguments on the defamation suit against Jeff Ooi and Rocky Bru in Are Jeff Ooi and Rocky Bru chooks?

They asked the same stuff as did some commentators which I alluded to in the previous posting - in essence what's so special about Jeff and Ahirudin that they shouldn't be sued?

If they had read my posting more closely, they would have noticed I wrote: "My take is that neither Jeff Ooi nor Ahiridin Attan is unique. But what is unique has been a set of circumstances, as follows: ..." going on then to discuss the 'set of circumstances' rather than NST leaders' right to sue Jeff and Rocky.

My first observation and indeed query has been: "Look mate, it's the same bloke who's hostile to Jeff. He had pursued Jeff before, so ho hum, what would be new this time, excuse me yawnnn?"

Then on one of the defamation issues, the case of plagiarism, what about the BBC which also
reported on the same issue, indeed worldwide.

I recalled there was a threat to sue the BBC unless it withdrew its news report. I also recall the BBC stating the report had been
entirely legitimate.

OK, so where's the NST's treat to sue the BBC for the same social sin? As malaysiakini reader, Nathaniel Tan, lamented: "The NSTP has demanded the BBC retract their story over the same matter and angrily threatened to sue. But today,
the BBC article still stands, and there hasn't been a whiff of a lawsuit against them.”

Mind you, malaysiakini informed us that it has been brought to its attention that NSTP has initiated legal proceedings against the BBC involving the said article. But then, that’s only "been brought to its attention". What is fact is personalities in the NSTP have launched a defamation suit against two ikan bilis (small fry) Malaysian bloggers rather than the BBC for saying the same thing.

Another malaysiakini reader Michael reminded us succinctly of the difference between an online newspaper and a blog. Relevant extracts of his letter are as follows:

All blogs usually post that these are of opinions of the author only. Similar to writing letters to the editor of Malaysiakini or The News Straits Times or The Star. How is it any different?

No matter what your beliefs are, no matter what you think facts are facts and the fact here is that blogs are defined as a personal diary or journal (not to be confused with newspapers which are suppose to report news and the truth). Blogs have never stated their contents are the actual truth but only an opinion of one person(s) that may or may not agree with those of other people.

Look up the definition of blogs and bloggers and you will find hundreds of sites and dictionaries explaining the same as above. You can not simply rewrite a definition just because you do not agree with it. Even if a blogger claims they have conducted research and that their statements are based on actual reports, their content are still a personal journal and nothing really anymore than that.

Lastly, I would just like to say to your readers to do a little research yourself on the Internet and see how many mainstay newspapers around the world have actually taken a lawsuit against a writer or a person for defamation - you will find very few. What most respectable newspapers would do is to instead opt to write a rebuttal about what had been written about them.

Why does the NST not do the same? They have the space and the ability to write even a full-page column about what had been said about them.

Indeed, why don’t those plaintiffs sue the BBC first before they terrorise the bloggers. Lawsuits today are so expensive that those who can’t afford it can be easily bullied into surrendering or silence or suffer bankruptcy.

In fact the defence lawyer for Ahirudin Attan has asked the court to strike out the defamation suit because the claim is vague and a mere fishing expedition, rendering defence impossible as the defendant doesn’t know precisely what he is being sued for?

Then, added to that, why has the PM interfered in a civil suit by defending the defamation suit against the two bloggers. In a visit to the UK, he said: "They cannot hope to cover themselves or hide from the laws."

“… cover themselves …”?

“… hide from the laws …”?

Haven't those comments been strikingly akin to ‘guilty until proven innocent’?

As I wrote in my previous posting on same subject, 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.”


  1. My, my, you came back Tour de Force, KT.
    Guess the kayaking trip did do you some good afterall. Good take on the 'threaten-to-sue' flip-flop stand by the BODOH paper.

  2. KT,

    wow, u took 1 NEW POST to answer us?? i'm honoured, again...

    but, u still haven't answered these preliminary questions:

    did u personally KNOW what's the beef of the suit?
    what were alleged to b the libelous contents??

    i don't think u can accuse the arseholes at NST of anything until n unless u know the contents of the allegations.

    that's elementary fairness.

    BBC - it's up to them when n if they want to sue. if they don't, they r CHICKEN, JUST LIKE jeff & rocky who wants to 'blog responsibly with their true identity' but at the same time seeking immunity from ALL law suits.

    but in this country, both CHICKENS + ARSEHOLES ARE entitled to invoke the court's process to sue anybody for anything, ANYTIME they like, regardless of 'circumstances'.

    u then said,
    "If they had read my posting more closely, they would have noticed I wrote: "My take is that neither Jeff Ooi nor Ahiridin Attan is unique. But what is unique has been a set of circumstances, as follows: ..." going on then to discuss the 'set of circumstances' rather than NST leaders' right to sue Jeff and Rocky."

    'circumstances'? well, maybe u didn't mean me, bcos i DID try to reject that kind of desperate arguments outright:
    "by your logic, no blogger could b legitimately sued so long as they have been doing these expose works in public interests."

    try telling all the plaintiffs out there to WAIT until the 'perfect circumstances' appear before they sue, or risk being condemned as bullies. that would b neat.

    besides, what count as 'circumstances'?? u r taking these bloggers' attacks on the NST top boss (AAB) as examples. but i guess u didn't mean to say that so long as these COCKY, ARROGANT loose-cannons KEEP ON barking non-stop, nobody could ever touch them??

    new blogger's immunity from lawsuit, folks:
    they aint gonna touch u so long as u keep barking!

    threat of law suits might force them to surrender??!!

    ooohh, i think these FREEDOM FIGHTERS would disagree with u, KT. they r our HEROES of free speech, man. they have said so many times that they r not doing this for personal benefits (jeff ooi's income from writing PAID POSTS WITHOUT disclosing to his readers notwithstanding; rocky's PERSONAL vendetta against the NST notwithstanding), but purely n absolutley to FIGHT for 'freedom of speech'.

    these r FREEDOM FIGHTERS man, how could u insinuate that they r COWARDS or CHICKENS?!?! or WIMPS n CRY BABIES who keep WHINING about being sued n how it would threaten 'free speech'??

    didn't u hear them calling us to 'WALK WITH' them??? how could u ever THINK that they would SURRENDER?!?!!!

    n maybe u just forgot to read this part of my comments:

    "their VICTORY would b a victory for the malaysian 'bloggerhood', right?? so wouldn't it b GREAT to have them sued, n then see them WIN?? their victory would mean so much for 'freedom of speech' in malaysia, right??"

    as FREEDOM FIGHTERS, surely they will WELCOME + REJOICE in this GOLDEN, LANDMARK OPPORTUNITY to DEFEND + ENTRENCH malaysia's FREEDOM OF SPEECH, don't u think?? they would never shy away from such a GLORIOUS battle, n they would VALIANTLY FIGHT till their LAST BREATH n till MATYRDOM is BESTOWED upon these LION HEARTS!!!

    because to WHINE, AGAIN & AGAIN, n to try to get the WHOLE country involved is only for WUSSIES, WIMPS & LIMP DICKS. i'm sure jeff & rocky would fully agree with me on that.

    (don't forget to check out right hand corner of jeff's page - u think he's not PROUD of being sued???)

    long live FREEDOM FIGHTERS!!!

    p/s: KT - i would have thought that u were TOO MATURE to want to join these 2's fan clubs...

  3. juslo, you have gone tangentially off track from what I wrote, perhaps in your eagerness to condemn Jeff Ooi and Rocky. I am not prepared to allow you to hijack the direction of my postings.

    cool off, if necessary take some time to do that, and then re-read my postings.

  4. agree.

    a newspaper of all entities should demonstrate its ability to defend itself in the face of an onslaught from just two bloggers.

    surely, the mighty NST is much more influential than BLOGGERS?

    CHILDISH! (not u, nstp)

  5. KT,

    sorry, still can't figure out what was the 'direction' of your post. (i never knew that YOU would try the same trick used by these FREEDOM FIGHTERS, 'hijack the discussion', 'off tangent', blah blah...)

    be that as it may, let's just take it that i WAS OFF TANGENT - y don't u JUST deal with the points I MADE??? been reading your blog for months now, this is the FIRST time i heard u criticizing a commentator that s/he has gone 'off tangent'.

    or perhaps they r just intellectually so bloody inferior that it's not worth spending your time on, that's y u have chosen to ignore them, for the 3rd time now? what i can do, except to lament how pathetic MY views have been. sigh... :(

    otherwise, i'll take it that u don't have an answer for them.

    p/s: yes, i'm very eager to condemn these HEROES, but that doesn't mean i didn't make ANY point in my post. could u just deal with them, please? thank u. else, just tell me to bugger off - n then stop barking about 'free speech' lah.

  6. KT,

    by the way, u forgot these circumstances:

    NST HAD WARNED our heroes to remove the posts, but they REFUSED, n KEPT BARKING.

    does that count as part of the 'circumstances'? pray tell.

  7. freelunch2020,

    (cant believe i'm championing the cause of the NSTP arseholes!!)

    just bcos NSTP is 'mighty' n 'influential' doesnt mean they should not invoke their CONSTITUTIONAL right to sue, right??

    besides, don't u think it's precisely bcos they want to DEFEND their 'mightiness' n 'influence' that they HAVE TO SUE to clear their names, not just thru 'publishing rebuttals' on their own pages?

  8. Hi KTemoc:
    The very point that I agree with you is that "Neither RB nor JO is unique" in the sense not because they are "small" like David vs Goliath, but rather I want to fully support them because they did not create falsehood and thus hurt the reputation of NSTP. But so far I am not sure the defamation charge is based on falsehood or statement of opinion.

    Then another interesting point arise: based on the letter written in Malaysiakini, blog is "so strictly" defined as personal diary and journal. Yes, blog has been "used" as personal log overwhelmingly over the world, but this is just one of the application, though major one. I agree with the definition of blog in wikipedia: "A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order." And as for application, it is really up to the users themselves. Now we have newsblog (NYT, The Times in UK, BBC etc), corporate blog (e.g., professor-student interaction blog (e.g. Greg Mankiw, Econ Prof from Harvard Uni) and who knows what else the application of blog could extend to?

    IMHO, another very different note on blog and personal diary is that: nobody can read your personal diary (the black notebook with little lock on it) without your consent, or else it is an intrusion to personal privacy. A court will have to subpoena duces tecum your personal diary for testifying, but blog? When the personal diary is published online, it is expected somehow there will be readers who reading it, whether we like it or not. If we are expecting no one should read it at all, why it is online and open in the first place?

    Another point that Michael suggested is that: the research done by blogger is a statement of opinion, nothing more. This is the analogy that I disagree. A research done in blogosphere is not taken seriously by others not because it is only a personal opinion, but rather of creditability issue. If the blogger spares his/her time to set for proper research methodology, have good sample size and distribution, have the proof of result, have peer review done by someone with high creditability (university prof), is verifiable (e.g. by subsequent university researcher), I don't see why we can't take it seriously and be more than a personal opinion? Why would we want to deny the innovative and creative way of conducting research whereas we have not fully realized the potential of blog?

    As for personal vendetta or not, or the motive of issueing this libel by NSTP, as "obvious" as almost everyone of us know, still is not good excuse to say that defamation is baseless. Another crude analogy: just as everyone knows A is "boh song" with B, and one day B is found murdered in his house, A could be a suspect of killing him, but not neccessarily the killer. It still comes back to evidence, rite? And as for BBC vs 2 ikan bilis, yes, we can all cry that NSTP is foul, it works in the realm of morality but I dont think it works in the realm of legality (may be you can ask lawyer friend about the traffic police analogy).

    After having all these said, yes, we all could interpret this incident as the symbolic meaning on "People vs Government", attack on freedom of speech, David vs Goliath etc etc. I want to join the gang, I feel down deep in my heart it is a right thing to support JO and RB, but I want to do it in the reasonable way.

    your naive reader :)

  9. juslo,

    I quote you “i never knew that YOU would try the same trick used by these FREEDOM FIGHTERS, 'hijack the discussion', 'off tangent', blah blah..”

    Aren’t you using the same tactic as those bloggers you criticised so severely? You’re basically saying I shouldn’t do this or that, in the same manner you criticised the bloggers for 'asserting' they shouldn’t be sued.

    ‘Words’ are the tools of a blogger, so I shouldn’t be denied use of whatever words I need to re-direct readers back on the ‘track’ I intended for my posting, be those words ‘tangential’, ‘hijacking’, etc.

    As mentioned, the NSTP bringing the defamation suit against those bloggers has not been in question – it’s now up to the court to settle the dispute. But many in our blogging-information world queried the true motive behind it.

    That was the direction of my posting, a discussion on the possibility of any motive other than the issue of defamation.

    On the accusation of defamation itself, you’re right in that most people still aren’t too clear about the exact offending postings or comments made at those two blogsites that have ‘invited’ the defamation suits, though one is believed to the case of alleged plagiarism. Such is the secrecy of the exact offence that even the defence attorney has applied for the court to strike out the suit, claiming how in the world would his client be able to defend himself if he doesn’t even know the precise nature of the complaint?

    What about my ‘set of circumstance’?

    (1) If indeed it’s about defamation, why not tackle the BBC which would have effected a far more (worldwide) damaging consequence by its publishing of the alleged plagiarism? Why sue instead two bloggers whose damaging comments would only be local? The illogic of the party selected to be sued lends belief that there may be more behind that defamation suit.

    (2) The second ‘coincidence’ has been the two bloggers posting embarrassing items about the PM.

    (3 etc, etc)

    I won’t repeat what I have already posted but these were the factors that my posting posed for discussion, rather than the issue of why the bloggers shouldn’t be taken to court.

    Mind you, at a personal level, I support Jeff and Ahirudin (having also registered my name among the bloggers who have rallied behind them) but that was not the direction of my posting on subject. The support has been done to death by many other bloggers.


    you’re far from being na├»ve ;-) you have presented a very good argument. Two issues of further debate – (1) when malaysiakini reader Michael suggested that postings represents personal opinions of the bloggers, he brought out the examples not unlike letters written and published in NST, Star etc, so I don’t think those diaries are that ‘personal’ for eyes of author only, (2) on research, you have taken it beyond the activity of blogging as we know it, into the province of academic research. Casual bloggers like me blog for fun, to express our opinions, etc and while we may do a wee research, it's hardly akin to that conducted by the academia.

  10. KT,

    thanks for the response.

    "Aren’t you using the same tactic as those bloggers you criticised so severely?"

    no, it's different.
    THEY shut me up, refusing to post my critical comments.

    YOU tried to tell me to shut up n just talk about your hypothesis - which was itself BUILT ON many propositions (circumstances, BBC etc - also see below). what u did was different from the freedom fighters, but still trying to shut me up. but u have only taken the first step (by words - WHICH i think is completely LEGITIMATE), not the 2nd - of censoring comments. for which, i believe u have much more respect for free speech. (n the fact that u didnt tell me to just bugger off, but instead engaged me, shows that u INDEED respect free speech, for which i salute u.)

    ME? i tried to do what YOU also did - by using WORDS to persuade that u should not say i was off tangent, which is DIFFERENT from saying u should SHUT UP. i was criticisng u, AT NO TIME did i ask u to shut up (except if u asked me to bugger off, in which case 'stop barking about free speech', that's what i said.) i invited u to talk about MY points, which u did, in a way. n thanks.

    i ATTACKED your propositions (upon which u built your hypothesis, of whether there was motive other than 'defamation'). i think that is NOT deviating from your post, bcos if i'm right that your supporting propositions r unsound, there's no need to consider your hypo, right? that's what i tried to do. so i still maintain that u were wrong to accuse me of 'off tangent', 'hijacking'. n i just think it's nonsensical or irrelevant to restrict the line any commentator tries to develop in an OPEN forum such as yours. it's not an exam paper or court room, where u can only answer 'yes or no'.

    again, u also missed 1 of my points: the 'circumstances' r IRRELEVANT, to anybody's right to sue.

    BBC - i don't think it's 'illogical'. on the contrary, i think NST is attacking the ROOT first - u have to establish that the accusers (of plagiarism - the freedom fighters) r wrong, before u can attack those who SPREAD those false accusations (BBC). it's perfectly logical.

    look, i'm not so naive as to believe that NST is doing this without green light or even encouragement from the top boss. i just think that whoever gave the green light, whatever the motives, u cant just focus on how NST is 'bullying' the fighters, without putting a BIG CAVEAT that u CANNOT say whether the fighters DESERVE to b sued. u can't call anybody a bully until u r sure the bullied was completely innocent.

    since u admitted that u r also not sure about the exact accusations, i think your attack on NST was - though u r PERFECTLY entitled to raise them - NOT BALANCED.

    that's what i was trying to point out, by attacking your hypo n pointing out 'additional circumstances' which u had OMITTED in your posts, including these heroes refusing to shut the fuck up AFTER being warned.

    thanks for everything.