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INTRODUCTION

The rapid development and emergence of various forms of Internet


based publications, which include social networking sites (Facebook,
Twitter etc.), web logs (blogs), chat groups, newsgroups and many others,
have revolutionized the communication and of information in this modern
era. Attributed with borderless nature and geographical independence,
these online platforms have enabled Internet users to easily disseminate
any kinds of information and news to the public at large. The revolutionary
growth of the Internet and the incessant evolution of vast arrays of webbased

publications

have

greatly

facilitated

the

exercise

of

the

fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Nevertheless, the


comfort and convenience of accessibility and publication in the electronic
environment naturally come hand in hand with a number of potential
perils as ruthless Internet users could easily exploit these online platforms
in the name of freedom of speech. Any kind of online materials, including
hate speech and defamatory publications, can be easily created and
disseminated into the public domain via numerous forms of web-based
applications, most notably social networking services (SNS) such as
Facebook and Twitter as well as web logs (blogs). Consequently, it is
pertinent that appropriate and perhaps similar legal safeguards are put in
place for online and offline speech in order to protect the interests of the
public and the state.
At present, wide ranges of legal measures have been formulated
and readily available to govern online expression on the Internet. These
include public order laws, specific laws for targeted communications and
media law (Rowbottom, 2012). In addition, laws designed to regulate
harmful messages to a specific individual or set of individuals have also
been applied to offensive communications on the Internet. This could be
best illustrated with the Malicious Communications Act 1998 which has
been employed by the police to caution a man for making a false
allegation about a TV show in his blog even though the law was initially
enacted to tackle the problem of poison pen letters in offline world. Apart

from that, defamatory charges and actions for misuse of private


information have also been initiated against offender in the cyber world.
The control of online publications through the general law or specific
media rules involves a vast area and it is not possible to discuss at any
length all of the aforesaid laws in this study. For this reason, this
assignment will focus on the field of defamation. This is mainly due to the
reason that defamation law constitutes one of the many permitted
restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and one which is
particularly open to being deployed in relation to political speech, where
critical comments and observations are inevitably made. In Malaysia, the
law on defamation is contained in the Malaysian Defamation Act 1957.
This act is in pari materia with the English Defamation Act 1952 and
governs civil defamation whilst criminal libel is dealt with under sections
499 and 500 of the Malaysian Penal Code. Similar to its counterpart in the
UK, the statute provides no single definition of what defamation is. As a
result, the courts in the country have closely followed the law in the UK.
Even then, there is no uniform or comprehensive definition of what
constitutes defamatory matter. The interpretation of the word has been
deliberated in a number of cases. Under the Malaysian Law, a person who
spoil another persons good name may sue and taken legal action. In
short, anyone who is giving an unhealthy statement or giving speech,
talking in public must avoid spreading wrong information to nation.