IPOH, Jan 16 — MCA National Civil Society Campaign Bureau Chief Ng Kian Nam today criticised the state Health, Consumers Affairs, Civil Society, National Integration and Human Resource Committee chairman A. Sivanesan for filing a lawsuit against a farmer in his own constituency.
“Our bureau holds onto the principle of common law Derbyshire, which prohibits public bodies from taking defamation action against individuals.
“They were chosen by the people, thus they should be open to public criticism under the freedom of speech, particularly in the cases involving state public policies,” he said in a statement today.
The suit was also filed against another three defendants, namely the Star Media Group Berhad, a journalist from The Star and MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.
Ng said Sivanesan filed the legal suit following a news report by The Star on August 4 last year, which reported the statement given by the farmer, which is alleged to be slanderous.
“The farmer was appointed as the spokesman for a group of farmers in the Batang Padang district to defend their fruit and vegetable farms.
“We felt sympathy for these farmers as from August last year till to date, about 10 per cent of the 78.89 hectares of land belongs to the Mentri Besar Incorporate, where their farms are located, were cleared by a land mining company. The mining license was given by the state government,” he said.
He said following the land clearance, the farmer’s source of income has been badly affected.
Ng also said that the farmer, who is a defendant in the case, could be at risk of paying thousands or millions to Sivanesan.
“Definitely, the farmer could not afford to pay it as he is from a moderate farming family,” he added.
Ng also said this is the first time in the country’s history, where a state assemblyman, who is also an exco, has filed a lawsuit against a farmer, who is also a voter in his constituency, for defamation.
“We urge the state government to explain their connection with the land mining company, whether there is a conflict of interest involved and we also urge them to reveal the content of the contract signed,” he said.