Sunday, April 29, 2012

Think before you tweet

The Sunday Star
by Roger Tan
If not used wisely, tweeting obviously carries dire consequences, both civil and criminal, because of its limitless reach in this borderless world.

IN what appears to be the first case in Malaysia, the High Court at Kuala Lumpur ruled last Friday that a journalist had to pay half a million ringgit to a businessman as damages over two defamatory tweets.

The Sun columnist R. Nadeswaran was sued by businessman Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din in his personal capacity as the two defamatory tweets sent on July 12, 2010 and December 22, 2010 were sent out from his personal Twitter account.

The first tweet which questioned Mohamad’s Pakistani heritage was sent to one “tonypua”. The other, which libelled Mohamad as a “land thief” and his association with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, was sent to one “TerencetheSun”.

As Nadeswaran’s Twitter account was not a protected account, that is an open account, all his tweets could be read by the public including those who were not his Twitter account followers.

Justice Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah also ruled that as Nadeswaran did not file any defence to Mohamad’s claim, the former was deemed to have admitted to the latter’s entire claim.

Nadeswaran’s counsel was therefore not allowed to call any witnesses or cross-examine Mohamad’s witnesses with regard to the latter’s claims except on the issue of the amount of damages.