Home Media statements 2013 Media Statements Has PM Najib hired an advocate, perhaps a foreign law firm, to...

Has PM Najib hired an advocate, perhaps a foreign law firm, to intimidate online publishers?

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On 27 February 2013, Aliran received the following email asking us to remove two articles from our website.

Email from 'Riswan Habib'
Email from ‘Riswan Habib’

Apparently, it was first sent to Malaysia Today erroneously (though the links referred to are Aliran articles).

Aliran quickly checked out the articles to recall what was written in them.

The first is a statement by YB Sivarasa Rasiah, the MP for Subang, who had called upon the PM to respond to recent serious allegations made by Deepak Jaikishan.

The second article is by Aliran member and author of several books Ms Tan Pek Leng, who had compared the behaviour of the PM to his father in their responses to ISA detainees who had gone on a hunger strike. Whereas the father had met with detainees, the son and current PM had remained silent and not made any attempt to meet the detainees.

After reviewing the above articles, the Aliran Exco decided that we would not be removing either. Rather we regard the comments contained in them as ‘fair comment’ and firmly stand by both articles and their authors.

Strange and suspicious

Aliran’s concern was then directed at “Advocate Riswan Habib”, who from the email received claims to be a “Senior Legal Advisor” to the PM.

We googled ‘Riswan Habib’ but there’s no such person.

There is also no section or phone extension number for him in the “Office of the Prime Minister Main Block” that he mentions in his email.

Instead, his email address @brooklinshaw.com provides a clue. This is what the Brooklin Shaw website tells us about the firm:

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At any rate, do Malaysians lawyers refer to themselves as “Advocate so-and-so” when they communicate with the public?

It also seems strange that this ‘Advocate Riswan Habib’ should email us instead of sending us a registered letter like most local lawyers would do.

It appears to us that this person is not a local and might be based abroad. Or he could be a lone pro-BN cyber-trooper who has taken it upon himself to harass online publishers.

In any case, we want the PM to clarify whether ‘Advocate Riswan Habib’ represents him or the PM’s office. If indeed Riswan does, we demand that the PM’s Office stop the intimidation and harassment of alternative websites like Aliran.

Dr Francis Loh
1 March 2013

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