Singapore—After the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a statement saying that a lawsuit filed by a Malaysian human rights group against K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Law and Home Affairs, was thrown out by the High Court of Malaysia, the group also issued a statement decrying what it claimed to be a mischaracterisation of the proceedings.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) filed a suit against the Minister on January 24, 2020, after Mr Shanmugam issued a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) direction on January 22.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), LFL published an article on its website that had “untrue, baseless and preposterous allegations about judicial executions conducted in Changi Prison,” and it therefore directed the rights group to place a correction notice at the top of the article.
The MHA said in a statement that “LFL’s legal action sought, inter alia, a declaration that the correction direction was null and void, and that the Act was unenforceable against them.”
The ministry added that on September 21, the High Court of Malaysia struck out the lawsuit filed by LFL, since the group did not serve court papers in the suit as well as discontinued applications to renew these papers.
LFL’s reason for not serving or renewing the applications for the papers were undisclosed, according to a report in thestraitstimes.com on October 1.
The MHA added, “LFL’s conduct in commencing its legal action, publicising the same, and then failing to prosecute the matter, leading to its striking out by the High Court of Malaysia, is consistent with how LFL has conducted itself so far.
LFL made sensational allegations against the Singapore Prison Service, and the treatment of prisoners, and promised to put forward evidence. But nothing was put forward to substantiate its wild and completely untrue allegations.”
On October 2 (Friday), the rights group released a statement in answer to the MHA issued by N Surendran, LFL’s Advisor.
After stating that the group’s legal action had been “in response to the issuance of a notice under the notorious POFMA Act by Singapore against LFL for exposing brutal execution methods in Changi prison,” LFL further called the statement from MHA as “ incorrect and irresponsible” claiming that the Ministry “intended to mis-characterise what happened in the KL High Court and mislead the public in both Singapore and Malaysia”
LFL clarified that the suit had “simply expired” because it had not been served upon Mr Shanmugam yet. Additionally, the group had actually been allowed by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to re-file the civil suit “which shows that the suit was far from being ‘baseless’. We note that Singapore deliberately did not mention this important fact in their press statement,” LFL added.
The group further confirmed in its statement that it has re-filed the suit against Mr Shanmugam in the KL High Court.
LFL added, “We will be vigorously prosecuting this civil suit, which is intended to protect the freedom of expression of Malaysians against encroachment by a foreign country.”
As an added clarification, the group also claimed that Singapore’s Attorney-General had refused to accept service of the court papers “by letter of February 13, 2020.”
More details about the rights’ groups allegations may be found in its statement. —/TISG
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