DAP supports a limit to damages in  defamation suits  to end mega awards which stifle freedom of speech and press and stunt democracy

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): DAP supports a limit to damages in defamation suits to end mega awards which stifle freedom of speech and the press and stunt the growth of healthy democracy and a vibrant civil society in Malaysia.

The Malaysian judicial system deviated from its role as the custodian of justice when it took a wrong turn with  the highest mega awards for defamation in the world, even exceeding damages awarded in England, Australia and Canada.

The former Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Tun Eusoff Chin did the judiciary and country a grave disservice with the highly reactionary and mistaken  position that "low and cheap awards would only send the wrong signal and become a licence to libel the respondent and other people with impunity" and it is imperative that this deviation be corrected without any delay.

Former Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus, on his retirement on Monday said that everyone must work to preserve the good name of the judiciary so that the government and the country would not be unnecessarily condemned.

Unfortunately, in the recent past, the highest judicial officers in the land were not mindful of this injunction and  failed to work to preserve the good name of the judiciary by  the most impeccable judicial conduct, whether  in the course of their judicial function or in their private personal behaviour, that the Malaysian judiciary was plunged to its greatest crisis of confidence in the nation's history, exposing the government and country to international oppobrium and condemnation as testified by the indictment of the international legal and judicial community in the report "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000".

Lamin was the second highest judicial officer in the land during the publication of "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000", and it is most unfortunate as well as pathetic that he and the then Chief Justice, Tun Eusoff Chin, were unable to present any rebuttal to this damning report of their leadership of the judiciary even up to their retirement.

The report "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000" stands as the greatest blot on the judicial record of both Eusoff  and Lamin.

All Malaysians are hoping that the  new  Chief Justice of the Federal Court Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah would  leave an unforgettable legacy in legal history in Malaysia, in initiating and successfully carrying out far-reaching legal and judicial reforms to restore the respect and confidence of Malaysians and the international community in the Malaysian judiciary.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman