KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 ― The Johor Baru High Court today granted leave to a doula (home birth companion) Masyitha Md Hassan to initiate contempt proceedings against a doctor who has been ordered to pay RM200,000 in damages in a defamation suit filed by the doula, two years ago
Judicial Commissioner Evrol Mariette Peters made the decision after hearing the ex-parte application filed by 33-year-old Masyitah in the proceedings via Skype today. The court also granted RM5,000 in costs
Counsel, Nur Izzaida Zamani, representing Masyitah said her client had filed the ex-parte application to start contempt of court proceedings against defendant Dr Sakinah Sulong, 44, who deliberately failed to comply with Evrol’s decision on October 26, which ordered the doctor to post an unconditional public apology statement to the plaintiff on her Facebook page.
The court ordered Dr Sakinah, who is the defendant, to publish a public apology on her Facebook page within seven days of the court order and the deadline for the defendant to tender the apology was November 2,” Nur Izzaida said when contacted.
The court also ordered Dr Sakinah to pay costs of RM30,000 to the plaintiff and issued an injunction order not to publish any statement linking the occurrence of the birth and death of an infant on February 4, 2018 to Masyitah.
In the suit and statement of claim filed on August 10, 2018, Masyitah said the defendant had maliciously uploaded, broadcast and published posts about the plaintiff on the defendant’s Facebook on February 7, February 8, and February 12, 2018, about the death of an infant who was delivered through a home birth process on February 4.
The public post was liked by more than 5,000 individuals on Facebook.
According to the plaintiff, the defamatory statements meant to say that Masyitah was a liar who had influenced the mother to continue with home water birth which killed or caused the death of a baby.
The statements referring to the plaintiff were false, untrue, baseless and were published with malicious intent and to damage her good reputation among the general public.
“As a result, my client received various comments, hate messages and threats including death threats from various individuals unknown to her through the social media platform and short-message servicing (SMS),” the lawyer said.
Masyitah, who was heavily pregnant at the material time, suffered depression, emotional and mental stress and postpartum depression after giving birth.
She stressed that she did not cause the death of the baby as claimed by the defendant and there were no evidence or decision by any investigations or court case that had convicted Masyitah of murder.
Meanwhile, the court also allowed Masyitah to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Prof Dr Imelda Balchin Nasruddin, who has been named as a contemnor in the proceedings.
“All papers in regards to the contempt proceedings will be served to all parties accordingly,” she said, adding the defamation lawsuit went on a three-day trial beginning August 9.
Meanwhile, Dr Sakinah, who is a specialist doctor, said in her statement of defence that her Facebook posts were an expression of opinion, factual commentary and reasonable comment based on public interest.
She claimed that her comments followed an incident of a baby dying from breathing difficulties after the baby’s head got stuck in the mother’s perineum during a breech delivery and footling presentation.
Dr Sakinah also claimed that the birth of the baby was handled by the patient’s husband while the head of the baby was handled by an individual who is not a certified medical officer. ― Bernama