MALAYSIAKINI WILL RE-SUBMIT ITS APPLICATION FOR A PUBLICATION LICENCE
The Court of Appeal today unanimously dismissed the Home Ministry and government’s appeal against a High Court judgment that Malaysiakini portal operator Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd be issued a publication permit.
“We are in agreement with the High Court judge,” the chairperson of the three-member appellated court, Justice Alizatul Khair Othman, said this afternoon.
“Hence, we dismiss the appeal,” he said.
Justice Alizatul also allowed cost of RM5,000 to be paid to Mkini Dotcom.
Senior federal counsel Norhisham Ismail said he will await instructions on whether to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Malaysiakini lawyer K Shanmuga said with the decision as in High Court, the independent online daily can re-submit its application for a publication permit.
The granting of a publishing permit is a privilege and not a right of the parties, the government argued in the Court of Appeal today in opposing Malaysiakini website operator Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd’s bid to be issued with a publishing permit.
Senior federal counsel Norhisham Ismail said the Kuala Lumpur High court judge had erred in ruling that the granting of a publishing permit is a right under Article 10 of the federal constitution on freedom of expression.
“In arguing on the grounds of illegality of the home minister’s decision, it is not a right as you have to apply first to get the permit.
“A distinction has to be made between an application and the revocation of a permit.
“Unfortunately, the learned High Court judge did not differentiate this position,” said Norhisham, referring to the difference between the application for a newspaper permit and the revocation of that permit by the minister.
The home minister cannot limit Malaysiakini’s right to publication just because it wants to limit competition among newspapers, the web portal operator Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd’s lawyer K Shanmuga told the Court of Appeal today.
Shanmuga said that if the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) was not there, it would not limit the publication of newspapers.
He said the minister, in not giving any reason for rejecting Mkini Dotcom;s application for a publishing permit, can be a subject of judicial review.
“The minister, in giving reasons only in the affidavit, had said they want to ensure there would not be too many newspapers for the public.
“They say that there are already 75 newspapers and they do not want to crowd the market as this would affect the profitability of newspapers and people would be confused when there are so many different versions of a story.”
“However, such a reason goes against the Competition Act as the people should be allowed to have their choice of publication and the country should encourage healthy competition,” Shanmuga added.
Also appearing for Mkini Dotcom is Edmund Bon.