Early on the eve of Chinese New Year today, the Malaysian-based human rights organisation, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), held a press conference to address its legal action taken against the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for its correction direction issued against the Malaysian NGO under the powers of Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA). The MHA would definitely not appreciate this CNY gift, especially coming on the eve of the long weekend break.
The POFMA was issued to LFL by MHA On Wednesday, 22 Jan, in which the MHA said that the statement made by LFL on 16 January regarding the alleged judicial execution methods in Changi Prison is “untrue, baseless, and preposterous”. MHA also revealed that the Minister for Home Affairs, K Shanmugam has instructed the POFMA Office to issue a correction direction not only against LFL, but also to three other parties – Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, Yahoo Singapore, and The Online Citizen (TOC) – for publishing the allegations.
During the press conference by LFL, their advisor N Surendran spoke about LFL’s legal suit against Mr K Shanmugam for issuing the correction direction. The suit also seeks a declaration that the Minister cannot take any action on LFL in Malaysia under POFMA.
“The reason we’ve brought this suit is that, for us, this is an attempt by Singapore to encroach upon, to stifle, or to crack down on freedom of speech in our country – in Malaysia.” he added. “It is an attempt to reach out their tentacles and impose their own oppresive fake news act on Malaysians issuing statements in Malaysia. And remember our own fake news act? The new government has already repealed it. But they’re now trying to impose their fake news act on us, so that’s why we’ve filed it.”
Activist Kirsten Han had already put up the correction direction on her Facebook post, albeit reluctantly, as she tried to comply with the POFMA issued against her.