Bloggers sued by pro-government Malaysian newspaper

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Pioneer Malaysian bloggers Ahiruddin Attan and Jeff Ooi have been sued for defamation by a leading Malaysian newspaper, The New Straits Times. They are alleged to have defamed top executives of the English daily. The case marks the first time bloggers have been sued for libel in the country.

The oldest newspaper group in Malaysia is owned by the Media Prima group, which is in turn owned by the United Malays National Organization, the leading party in the government.

Malaysia has strict media laws but they function less effectively on newer forms of electronic media. Leading members of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (the National Front) have suggested making amendments to its media laws, such as to punish bloggers who publish materials that are deemed controversial and "anti-government".

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang expressed concerns that the action will have a chilling effect on popular blogs that have expressed discontent with the incumbent administration.