Malaysian Blogger Defamation Trial: What Would Happen In The U.S.?

Would an American blogger suffer the same fate as a blogger in Malaysia?
Would an American blogger suffer the same fate as a blogger in Malaysia?

MALAYSIA – An interesting online defamation case is unfolding in Malaysia – a blogger is suing an elected official. The case is so intriguing that it got me thinking about how this libel lawsuit would play out in the United States.

Blogger “Sekupangdua” Sues For Libel

A blogger that goes by the handle “Sekupangdua” (Real name Ahmad Sofian Yahya; “Sek” from here on out) is suing a Malaysian politician for the Taiping, Perak region, Nga Kor Ming. The whole thing started in January of this year when Sek posted a story to his blog entitled “Hot! Expose on Nga Komeng and Pakatan Rakyat Robbery!”. Now, I speak Malay just about as well as I speak Klingon (oh, ok, I know a little bit of Klingon), so I can’t give you a detailed explanation of what the article said, but judging from the title, we can assume it had to do with a robbery.

Like any politician on the globe, Nga was none too pleased with Sek’s assertions. Defamation litigation commenced and on June 22, 2012, both parties came to an agreement behind closed doors. In other words, they settled out of court. Nga and Sek contracted a truce; both vowed not to mention the incident online for evermore.

On September 9, however, Nga – a member of the country’s Democratic Action Party, took action on his own website by posting a message that made it sound like the court had ruled that Sek’s post was defamatory, when in reality it was settled out of court. Concerned about his reputation, Sek filed a defamation lawsuit against Nga, claiming that the politician was out to ruin his “blogger reputation.”

Would Sek Win This Online Defamation Lawsuit In An America Court Of Law?

The plight of Sek v. Nga got me thinking about how this case would probably play out in an American court. Would Sek be considered a public figure since he willingly injected himself into political discourse? Would a judge and/or jury determine that since the two parties had previously come to a detentes than Nga was breaking a contract and therefore liable?

An expert on Malaysian cultural life I am not, so it’s difficult to answer the question of whether or not Sek would be considered a public figure in U.S. courts – which would mean he’d have to prove actual malice. If he’s as popular as, say, Han Han is in China, then there’s a good chance that he’d be considered a public figure and therefore, under U.S. defamation law, would have to prove that Nga knowingly lied with the intent to cause harm. If a judge rules that Sek is not a public figure, than he wouldn’t have to meet the actual malice standard.

Moreover, the state in which Sek filed the lawsuit would also affect the decision – because while there is a federal defamation statute in the United States, each state has their own set of slander and libel laws.

In a U.S. court, Sek would also have to prove how the incident harmed him – but he’d have many options, as there are myriad damages one can claim in a defamation lawsuit.

Defamation Pro Se

Defamation Pro Se
Defamation Pro Se Means You Represent Yourself In A Defamation Lawsuit.

If you have been targeted by defamatory statements, you have the right to represent yourself at trial. In the legal community, this is known as proceeding “pro se.” If you choose to file your defamation lawsuit without an attorney’s help, you should follow these four steps.

Defamation Pro Se Step #1: Know What You Need to Prove

In every lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove a list of facts known as elements. In order to prepare your defamation case, you’ll need to be extremely familiar with the elements that apply to your defamation lawsuit. When you encounter a piece of evidence, you must immediately know which element of your case it proves.

Defamation is a broader term for two specific legal theories: libel and slander. For libel, the basic elements are: The defendant made a defamatory, or false and derogatory, statement; at least one person other than the defendant heard the statement; and the plaintiff was injured in some way. The basic elements of slander are virtually identical, but the statement must have been published in permanent form.

Defamation Pro Se Step #2: Gather Evidence

As time passes, memories fade and relevant documents disappear. As soon as you discover someone made harmful statements about you, start gathering and preserving evidence. Here are some of the investigative steps you should take:

  • Write down everything you remember about the case. Your memory deteriorates with every day that passes.
  • Contact any witnesses who might have information about the case. Ask them what they know and record their answers.
  • Save original documents, not copies. This is particularly important if the defamatory statements were published. If you cannot find an original, you can substitute a high-quality photocopy.

Defamation Pro Se Step #3: Research Defamation Law

Once you have gathered all of the relevant evidence, you should research defamation law until you completely understand how it applies to the facts of your case. Beyond knowing the elements of your suit, you need to master all the arguments your opponent might raise. The issues that you think are most important may not be relevant, and points you think are unimportant may determine the outcome of the case.

You can use free defamation law resources found on the Internet as a starting point, but you will need to gather specific information about the law as it has been interpreted by the courts in your jurisdiction. To do this, you will need to visit a local law library. Most courthouses have modest libraries that are open to the public; plan to spend many hours poring through treatises and court reports until you fully understand the law that governs your case so you can proceed with defamation pro se.

Defamation Pro Se Step #4: Master the Procedural Rules.

The parties to a lawsuit must follow a set of procedural rules. These rules are extremely complex and often span more than a thousand pages. Even though you do not have an attorney, you will be held responsible for following the rules of court. Many otherwise strong cases have been dismissed because a party ignored or failed to understand the rules.

Consider Consulting a Defamation Attorney

If you are concerned about your ability to complete all of these defamation pro se steps successfully, you should consult a defamation lawyer.

How to deal with online defamation

With the increased popularity of the internet, it is safe to say that the number of online defamation cases will continue to rise. In short, this occurs when somebody posts a false statement about another person on the internet. Although online defamation is quite common, not every instance leads to a lawsuit. That being said, this is becoming more and more common. For this reason, online defamation lawyers are staying busy with a variety of cases.

The main goal of an online defamation attorney is to have these statements removed from the website where the information was posted as well as major search engines. As you can imagine, this is easier said than done. While there are some people who attempt to deal with online defamation on their own, this is not always the best way to move forward. Instead, hiring an experienced attorney is often times the only answer.

No matter if you are being defamed or your business is taking a hit, there are online defamation lawyers who are willing to help you out. Interpreting the Communications Decency Act on your own is not something that is easy to do. Fortunately, when you hire an attorney with experience in this area you will have somebody on your side that can answer all your questions and move forward with your case in the appropriate manner.

Protecting your reputation online is not as easy as it sounds. After all, anybody can publish content via the internet – you do not have to be rich or in a special position to share information with the rest of the world. This alone is one of the main reasons why online defamation cases are rising through the roof.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

As noted above, some people think that they can handle an instance of internet defamation on their own. While there is nothing wrong with trying, the fact of the matter remains the same: you do not know the ins and outs of the law. Even if you have some knowledge, you may not have the experience necessary to get the information removed in an accurate and timely manner.

When you hire an online defamation lawyer you can be rest assured that you are getting professional help from start to finish. The goal of your lawyer is to have this negative information removed without delay. If they are successful you will feel much better about your situation and what the future holds.

Once you have an attorney working your case, it is easy to get all your questions answered – and this is something that should be very important to you. This is your chance to pick the brain of somebody who knows exactly what they are doing. Online defamation is more common than ever, so you need to learn as much as possible. Even if you take care of your current issue, you never know when something similar is going to come about in the future.

People listen to attorneys. In other words, you have a better chance of having the information removed if an attorney contacts the other party on your behalf. There is something about getting a notice from a lawyer that really scares some people. Once somebody believes that they are going to be hit with a lawsuit, their entire tune will change. This is why you need to have an online defamation lawyer working your case from start to finish. A letter from a lawyer holds much more weight than a letter from you.

Potential Cases

There is a fine line between online defamation and somebody stating their opinion. Again, this is why you need to hire an experienced attorney. He or she can give you advice on whether or not you have a case. Along with this, you can learn a lot about the Communications Decency Act along the way.

One of the most common types of online defamation is false reviews. For example, a doctor review that is false and motivated by some underlying meaning. As you can imagine, one negative review can greatly harm the reputation of a doctor.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who get joy out of hacking into other’s accounts. From there, these people often times post information and photos that are not meant to reach the public. This is one of the many types of online defamation that is growing by leaps and bounds.

The use of internet forums and blogs is growing at an astonishing pace. Not only does this give people an outlet for sharing information, but anybody can get involved. In addition to posting comments on forums and blogs, it is possible for anybody to start their own website with the intention of defaming others.

There is nothing worse than finding false information about yourself online. This can harm your personal and business reputation. Some people think that there is nothing they can do. Others, though, realize that they do not have to deal with this. Instead, they hire an online defamation attorney who is willing to take on their case and help them get the justice they deserve.

Don’t avoid hiring an attorney because of the cost. Remember, the fee is a small price to pay for having your online reputation restored. If you don’t spend the money to do this, there is a good chance that you will lose out on just as much in the future – especially if your business reputation has been damaged.

More so today than ever before, online defamation lawyers are keeping busy with new clients and cases. As the number of internet users continues to increase, as well as the popularity of forums and review sites, more and more of these cases will come to the forefront.