Malaysiakini’s legal standing to challenge fake news law to be heard on June 6

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KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has fixed June 6 to decide whether the publishers of Malaysiakini have the legal standing to challenge the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.

Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, which runs the online news portal Malaysiakini, has filed for leave for a judicial review, seeking a declaration that the law is unconstitutional and not valid.

However, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had raised a preliminary objection in the case, saying that the company has no locus standi or legal standing to challenge the law.

The High Court has fixed June 6 to decide whether to allow that preliminary objection.

If the preliminary objection is dismissed by the court, it means that Mkini Dotcom can proceed with its lawsuit against the federal government and Home Minister.

Mkini Dotcom’s lawyer N. Surendran argued his clients would be adversely affected by the law, as it could influence how they report the news.

In contrast, Senior Federal Counsel Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud submitted Mkini Dotcom has no locus standi to initiate the judicial review proceedings as it was not adversely affected under

Order 53 of Rules of Courts 1964.

Awang added that the plaintiff had wrongly named the Home Minister as a respondent, instead of a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

He told reporters this after the hearing before High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Azizah Nawawi in chambers on Monday (June 21).

Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd applied for leave for a judicial review on April 27 and named the federal government and Home Minister as the respondents.

In an affidavit-in-support, Mkini Dotcom chief executive officer and director Premesh Chandran said the applicant is a company which owns and operates an online news portal known as Malaysiakini which now has 69 staff.

He said the new law has removed the defence of reportage that his company uses.

The Anti-Fake News Act was passed in Parliament on April 2 and went into effect on April 11.