KUALA LUMPUR — Aug. 10, 2018: The High Court has dismissed an application by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for an order restraining the media and public from publishing statements on the merits of the criminal charges against him pending the disposal of the case.
In arriving at the decision, Justice Mohd. Nazlan Mohd. Ghazali found Najib’s application to be unsustainable.
Further, the specific term of the gag order applied for, if granted, would represent a major incursion into the constitutional right of freedom of expression and speech as stated in the federal Constitution and an unjustified departure from the open justice principle.
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for Najib submitted that his client had his right to a fair trial, not trial by the media or by the court of public opinion.
Bernama reported that he pointed out to adverse comments by the media and the public which had a tendency to inflame and excite passions on Najib and the merit of the case.
Shafee read several reports from the Sarawak Report online portal and comments from the public published in the Malaysiakini portal to which he described as very serious allegations prejudicial to Najib.
Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had also made disparaging remarks about Najib, argued Shafee.
Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria of the Attorney-General’s Chambers countered that the public had the right to make statements and the court could not stop them.