Jan 24, 2007

Fund to help bloggers facing legal action

(The Star) KUALA LUMPUR: A legal fund will soon be set up to provide financial assistance for bloggers who face legal action, such as the defamation suits by the New Straits Times Press (M) Sdn Bhd (NSTP) against bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin Attan.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ) here Tuesday, Ooi said the legal fund was an initiative made by fellow bloggers and would be taken care of by people with good reputations.

"The proceeds will not only be used to protect bloggers against suits but also to provide training workshops in the field of investigative journalism for bloggers, subject to the approval of the trustees."

According to Ahirudin, possible trustees for the fund include the former Prime Minister’s daughter Marina Mahathir and former NSTP group editor-in-chief A. Kadir Jasin.

Ooi added that the unprecedented move by NSTP to sue bloggers had created a climate of fear in the blogosphere but had also provided opportunities for positive ramifications.

On Thursday, the court is to hear an interparte application for an injunction on Ahirudin, while Ooi’s interparte application hearing will be on Jan 30.

Ooi, who also has an exparte injunction against him to remove allegedly defamatory postings on his Screenshots blog, described the case as the first time in Malaysian history that ownership of "opinion space" was being subjected to a court of law.

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