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Malaysia High Court strikes out rights group Lawyers for Liberty’s suit against Shanmugam: MHA

Malaysia High Court strikes out rights group Lawyers for Liberty’s suit against Shanmugam: MHA

File photo of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: A Malaysian human rights group accusing Changi Prison of brutal execution had its proceedings against Singapore's Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam struck out by the High Court of Malaysia last month, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday (Oct 1), calling the group’s legal action “baseless”.

In January, the group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said it had filed a motion in the Kuala Lumpur High Court against Mr Shanmugam, following the issuance of a correction direction by the POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods And Manipulation Act) Office.

The civil suit, filed on Jan 24, sought a declaration from the High Court indicating that Mr Shanmugam cannot take action against Lawyers for Liberty in Malaysia under POFMA.

The group told reporters then that the order was “an attempt by Singapore to encroach upon or crackdown on freedom of speech in Malaysia”.

From left: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) Director Melissa Sasidaran, LFL Advisor N Surendran and their counsels Gurdial Singh Nijar and Ambiga Sreenevasan. (Photo: D Kanyakumari)

READ: Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty files motion in KL High Court against Shanmugam over correction direction

Lawyers for Liberty never served its court papers on Mr Shanmugam, said MHA on Thursday.

“Instead, the papers subsequently expired and, for reasons which LFL did not make known, LFL discontinued its applications to renew the papers, and to serve them on the minister in Singapore,” said the ministry.

Lawyers for Liberty’s action was subsequently struck out by the High Court of Malaysia on Sep 21, MHA added.

“LFL’s legal action was baseless, and that is shown by the fact it has now decided not to continue the legal action,” said MHA.

READ: Singapore invokes online falsehoods law against Malaysian rights group's 'preposterous' claims on execution methods


On Jan 16, Lawyers for Liberty 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. 

MHA said in response on Jan 22 that the allegations were "entirely unfounded" as well "untrue, baseless and preposterous".

Lawyers for Liberty was subsequently issued a correction direction by the POFMA office, along with three other parties – Kirsten Han’s Facebook post, an online article by The Online Citizen and a Facebook post by Yahoo Singapore.

Lawyers for Liberty said it would not comply with the correction direction, and stood by its claims that prisoners on death row at Changi Prison were executed brutally.

READ: Malaysian rights group ‘absolutely stands by' claims on Changi prison execution methods, will not comply with correction direction


On Thursday, MHA reiterated that the claims made by the group are "wild and completely untrue".

“LFL’s conduct in commencing its legal action, publicising the same, and then failing to prosecute the matter, leading to its striking out by the High Court of Malaysia, is consistent with how LFL has conducted itself so far," said MHA.

“LFL made sensational allegations against the Singapore Prison Service, and the treatment of prisoners, and promised to put forward evidence.

“But nothing was put forward to substantiate its wild and completely untrue allegations.”

Source: CNA/aa


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