Many Malaysians were outraged (and lamented the death of press freedom) over the ex-parte application filed by Attorney-General Idris Harun against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief over “readers’ contempt” in its comment section. What many don’t realise is:-
1) There is a global push to ensure publishers pre-moderate readers’ comments since a watershed ruling by an Australian judge in 2019. The onus is put on media companies to prevent the postings of defamatory or inflammatory remarks on their site.
2) Some may argue that any sovereignty could take exception. Yes, we could have, but former Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo had set the scene in terms of increased media liability. He got the ball rolling for Malaysia when he proposed formulating laws to take action against news organisations for allowing readers to leave comments that threaten peace and harmony.