A Malaysian court ordered an online newspaper to pay 100,000 euros due to five comments from users criticizing the country’s judiciary.
Like ZAP, many other online newspapers allow their readers to comment on news at the end of articles. The practice is quite common, but it may have been very expensive for an online Malaysian newspaper. A court ruled that the site was legally responsible for comments from readers considered insulting to the Malaysian judiciary.
The Malaysiakini newspaper was found guilty of contempt, and the court ordered him to pay a fine of about 100,000 euros due to five comments left by users, writes The New York Times.
The editor of the newspaper, Steven Gan, said the heavy fine was an attempt to bankrupt Malaysiakini. “This will have a terrible and scary impact in discussions of issues of public interest and will be a fatal blow to our ongoing campaign of fight against corruption“Gan said after the hearing.
Some readers and supporters said that Gan and Malaysiakini were being punished for the newspaper’s news coverage, which has been critical of the Government and which serves as a voice for the opposition in Malaysia.
Readers’ comments were made in a news story about the Malaysian judicial system. Although they were later removed, it was not enough to avoid legal charges. The panel of judges considered that the newspaper should have examined and eliminated the comments.
The imposed fine ends up being well above that requested by prosecutors, which suggested a fine of around 40 thousand euros.
A few hours after the verdict was known, a group of donors launched a fundraising of funds who collected more than enough money to pay the € 100,000 fine, according to Malaysiakini himself. The newspaper is still deliberating on the fate of the excess funds.
“We thank our readers and supporters for helping us, even when certainly many are going through difficult times during this pandemic ”, said the CEO of the online newspaper, Premesh Chandran.
“This mirrors everything that is right and wrong in this country. That the Rakyat [partido socialista da Malásia] is willing to take a step forward and do its part so that their voices are heard and to make the country better, and to contribute to correcting errors ”, he added.
Daniel Costa, ZAP //