Lawsuit filed against Minister Shanmugam thrown out by Malaysia's High Court

The group had not served its court papers on Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam, and subsequently discontinued its applications to renew the papers.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - The High Court of Malaysia has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) against Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam.

The lawsuit was filed by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) on Jan 24 this year, in response to a Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) direction issued to the outfit on Jan 22.

At the time, the Pofma direction had required the NGO to insert a correction notice on top of an article published on its website, which the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said contained "untrue, baseless and preposterous allegations about judicial executions conducted in Changi Prison".

As the LFL had not served its court papers on Mr Shanmugam, and subsequently discontinued its applications to renew the papers due to reasons that the outfit did not make known, the Malaysian High Court on Monday (Sept 21) struck out the lawsuit.

In a statement on Thursday, the MHA called the LFL's legal action "baseless", saying this was demonstrated by the fact that it had decided not to continue the legal action.

"The 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," said the MHA.

"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."

The LFL had claimed in a statement on Jan 16 this year that Singapore prison officers were instructed to kick the back of a prisoner's neck with great force to break it, if the rope breaks during a hanging.

The Pofma office then invoked the Act and ordered the NGO and three parties that shared the allegations - Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, The Online Citizen website and Yahoo Singapore - to correct the false statements.

The Straits Times has contacted LFL for comment regarding the Malaysian High Court's decision.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.