Lawyer Slams Sabah Court S Gag Order On Identity Of Ex Mcmc Man In Cbt Case


A Sabah court has gagged the identity of a former deputy director of the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission facing CBT charges.PETALING JAYA: A veteran lawyer has denounced a judge’s decision to bar the media from disclosing the name of a former government official charged with committing criminal breach of trust
Speaking to FMT, Haniff Khatri Abdulla said judge Abu Bakar Mamat gave unreasonable grounds for the gag order when he said publishing the name and photo of the accused would be unfair to her schoolgoing children
The person in the dock, a former deputy director of the Sabah and Labuan office of the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission, faces six charges of misappropriating property entrusted to her
Haniff called for an end to the practice of citing unreasonable grounds for gagging the media
Haniff Khatri Abdulla.He acknowledged that there are provisions allowing judges to prevent the disclosure of identities, but he said these were typically aimed at protecting minors, regardless of whether they were victims, witnesses or accused persons
“But saying the media cannot report the accused’s name as it would be unfair to her schoolgoing children is stretching it too far.”He noted that it was normal practice for the media to name accused government officials, including judges. “And they have children too.”He said his concern was that the public would see the judiciary as giving preferential treatment to serving or former high-ranking government officials
“We cannot hide information relating to a crime from the public,” he said. “It sends out a dangerous signal. The public keeps score
“No one is above the law, not even those who are linked to enforcement agencies.”He said he could see no reason why the accused in the Kota Kinabalu case could not be named since she was innocent until proven guilty
Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor has also voiced concern over the gag order
He said a court could ban media coverage for several reasons, such as public safety and national security, or to protect vulnerable classes of persons, but he added that “feeble reasons” should not be among them
“We urge judges to exercise more care in using their discretion when limiting media freedom,” he said, adding such rulings could set a bad precedent and be perceived as being selective
“Very rarely do judges hear matters in camera to protect the identity of the victim and it’s usually in sex-related matters.”Fareed once spoke out against a Shah Alam magistrate’s decision to bar the media from covering the trial of a policeman accused of falsifying documents in a drug case. - FMT

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