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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Journalist Tashny Sukumaran today expressed relief after learning that a criminal defamation charge against her will be dropped.
Tashny was scheduled to appear at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex tomorrow morning, where she was to be charged over a series of tweets last year alleging inappropriate physical contact during a medical examination.
“I feel vindicated that the AGC (Attorney General’s Chambers) has seen sense and opted not to use this archaic and frankly ridiculous section of the penal code against me,” she told Malay Mail.
The charge stems from the physician’s police report against her over her public tweets.
She further claimed her own police report against the physician was closed due to insufficient evidence.
However, Tashny said the episode has nevertheless “created a chilling effect on similarly placed women who have spoken out or are thinking of speaking out against sexual harassment.”
Earlier today, she had on Twitter questioned Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ commitment to preserving freedom of expression, noting that her impending charge came under a week after he said that right continued to exist in Malaysia.
“It is unfortunate that our complaints on sexual harassment are often dismissed or perceived as defamatory.
“I urge the government to look into the fault-lines of our criminal justice system and create a safe space for women to speak out on issues impacting us,” she added.
Criminal defamation in Malaysia is covered under Section 499 of the Penal Code that was inherited from the British.
The offence is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both upon conviction.