Citing Mkini's verdict, Bar repeats call for review of contempt laws

Alyaa Alhadjri
·2-min read
Citing Mkini's verdict, Bar repeats call for review of contempt laws
Citing Mkini's verdict, Bar repeats call for review of contempt laws

The Malaysian Bar has called for the abolition of scandalising the judiciary as a form of contempt of court, according to a motion passed at its 75th annual general meeting yesterday.

It also called for a repeal of Section 114A of the Evidence Act and the enactment of a Contempt of Court Act.

Further, the members called on the Bar to do the needful in helping to draft and ensure that a "just Contempt of Court Act is enacted soonest."

"Since 1999, the Malaysian Bar has been calling for the enactment of the Contempt of Court Act. The Bar has also submitted a draft Bill," the motion read.

Newly elected Malaysian Bar president AG Kalidas said the Bar is of the view that contempt laws are only to be used in extreme cases.

"We are for the abolition of scandalising the judiciary as a form of contempt.

"We also call for a codified law on contempt which will provide clarity on the contemptuous conduct and its penalty," Kalidas said during a press conference at Wisma Badan Peguam in Kuala Lumpur.

The motion cited the Federal Court verdict that found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt for scandalising the court or judiciary, in relations to five readers’ comments.

"A perusal of the judgment sees that the court failed to do independent comprehensive evaluations of the said five comments to determine whether they were in fact contemptuous or not.

"Just because the alleged contemnor/s admitted, this should not have stopped the court from making a thorough analysis and determination," the motion said.

The Malaysian Bar noted the use of Section 114A of the Evidence Act on a presumption of fact in publication, highlighting that it had in the past supported campaigns for its repeal.

A seven-member Federal Court bench in a landmark majority six-to-one decision on Feb 19 found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt.

The majority verdict also ruled that the news portal's editor-in-chief Steven Gan was not guilty of the same charge.

Malaysiakini was sentenced to pay an RM500,000 fine, and a fundraiser launched later the same day saw an outpouring of support, with the amount reached in less than five hours.