Azam Baki's defamation suit against whistleblower Lalitha, a bit too soon

13 Jan 2022 05:38pm

SHAH ALAM: Tan Sri Azam Baki's defamation suit against investigative journalist Lalitha Kunaratnam was made rather too soon, says Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel.

This, she said was because the investigations into the allegations against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner had not yet been completed.

"In my opinion, the legal action was filed a bit too soon as investigations are still ongoing," she said in a press conference held by anti-graft movement Rasuah Busters in which C4 is a part of, today.

She said this is a critical case as it involves an investigative journalist who had leaked an extremely important information which relates to the transparency in the administration system.

During the press conference, Cynthia pointed out that it was important for investigative journalists to be included in the protective mechanism.

In fact, she said in certain countries, investigative journalists are given certain amount of protection as their work could put them in danger.

"Whistleblowers play an essential role not only in this county but also in other countries. So, investigative journalists need to be included in the protective mechanism.

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"Their role is incredibly crucial in exposing corruption at all levels.

"In this spirit, I think, Lalitha should be given the appropriate due process," she said.

She added that she hoped that the MACC would continue their effort in protecting whistleblowers.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Azam Baki filed a defamation suit naming Lalitha as the defendant.

The suit was in relation to her articles published in the Independent News Service (INS) on Oct 26 and Dec 15, last year.

Azam's lawyer Megat Abdul Munir had in a statement said his client had wished to make clear his unwavering commitment that the MACC will always protect all whistleblowers who fall within the ambit of the Whistleblower Protection Act.

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