Human rights lawyers file motion against Singapore top official over correction direction


Malaysian human rights group, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), has filed a motion in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Friday, January 24, against Singapore’s Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam seeking a ruling which would indicate that the Minister has no jurisdiction and cannot take any legal action against the group.

The civil suit was filed after LFL has accused Singapore’s Changi Prison of brutal execution methods.

Singapore’s Ministry of Human Affairs (MHA) then invoked the online falsehoods law against LFL. Mr. Shanmugam, has instructed the POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods And Manipulation Act) Office to issue a correction direction against LFL’s statement on its website.

This means that LHL will be required to carry a correction notice, stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods.

Speaking to media after the motion was filed, LFL adviser N Surendran said: “The reason for the lawsuit is because this is an attempt by Singapore to encroach upon or crackdown on freedom of speech in Malaysia.

“(Singapore wants) to reach out its tentacles and impose its own oppressive fake news act on Malaysians and they’re trying to impose it on us.”

The lawsuit is filed by LFL, the group’s director Melissa Sasidaran as well as Mr Surendran.

Mr Gurdial Singh Nijar, who is among the counsels representing the group, reiterated that Singapore cannot simply extend its laws to Malaysian citizens.

He noted that if LFL does not issue a correction notice, it could face imprisonment under POFMA.

“Our clients are at risk … You’re preventing Malaysians from exercising their rights which is granted by the constitution here. Singapore is looking to enforce what our government has repealed,” he added, referring to how Putrajaya has scraped a law penalising fake news.

On January 16, LFL released a press statement alleging brutal execution methods at Singapore’s Changi Prison.

In its statement, it alleged that prison officers were instructed to “pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him” and “kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force in order to break it”, whenever the rope broke during a hanging.

Calling the allegations “entirely unfounded”, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said on Wednesday that the executions are done in strict compliance with the law.

“For the record, the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any ‘special training to carry out the brutal execution method’ as alleged,” said MHA.

“Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with.”

LFL said it would not comply with the correction direction, while standing by its claims that prisoners on death row at Changi Prison are executed brutally.

“We decline to challenge the order in Singapore courts because Singapore has no jurisdiction over us,” Mr Surendran then told CNA.

On Thursday, the Infocomm Media Development Authority was directed to issue access blocking orders for LFL’s website.

The orders mean internet access service providers will have to disable access for users in Singapore to LFL’s website. (Source: CNA)