MACC disclosures: Others have rights too

Hafiz Hassan

14 Jan 2020, 8:55 pagi

Updated a year ago


LETTER | I refer to Syahredzan Johan’s “MACC disclosures – we have the right to know” where he asserts that “we, the public, have the right to know.”

The VK Lingam recording was released to the public in September 2007. According to a press statement by the then secretary-general of DAP, Lim Guan Eng, the video was exposed by the then PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, a member of the public. 

The audio clips of Najib Abdul Razak’s conversations with an ex-MACC chief and others were exposed last week by current chief commissioner Latheefa Koya, who is in public office. 

The rule of law demands that “people in positions of authority should exercise their power within a constraining framework of well-established public norms rather than in an arbitrary, ad hoc, or purely discretionary manner on the basis of their own preferences or ideology.”

Both Latheefa and Syahredzan should know.

And Syahredzan should know that up to 2009, at the latest, the tort of invasion of privacy was not recognised in Malaysia. This basically meant that one could not sue for invasion of his or her privacy.

The Malaysian High Court case of Ultra Dimension Sdn Bhd v Kook Wei Kuan in 2009 had held that invasion or violation of privacy was not a recognised tort or a cause of action in Malaysia. In this case, the plaintiffs failed in their action for invasion of privacy against the defendant for taking a photograph of a group of kindergarten pupils, including the plaintiffs’ child, at an open area outside the kindergarten and published it in two local newspapers. Two earlier High Court cases had also held that invasion of privacy was not an actionable wrongdoing.

However, the Court of Appeal decision in Maslinda Ishak v Mohd Tahir Osman & Ors in 2009 gave a strong indication that the courts have departed from the position that invasion of privacy was not an actionable tort. 

A year later, the case of Lee Ewe Poh v Dr. Lim Teik Man & Anor became the first reported Malaysian case that recognises the invasion of privacy as an actionable tort.

In the same year (2010), in the case of Sivarasa Rasiah v Badan Peguam Malaysia & Anor, Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram opined that the right to personal liberty includes the right to privacy.

So, we can rightly call the right to privacy an unnamed right under the Federal Constitution.

As such, we expect the likes of Latheefa to uphold that right.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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