It seems that our government’s cabinet members are always in the news for all the wrong reasons. The latest of which is Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin who made an outright false statement against Veveonah Mosibin who went viral for having to spend a night on top of a tree in order to get stable internet connection.
Zahidi claimed that Veveonah is only a Youtuber who wanted to be popular and gain more subscribers. He also alleged that his ministry has checked and Veveonah never had an examination scheduled on the day she went on top of the trees.
Well, we all know what happened next.
Seemingly the whole of Malaysia was defending Veveonah and her batch mates from UMS proved that they indeed had an examination. This prompted the Deputy Minister to issue an apology and clarified that he had received the wrong information from his ministry.
However, browsing through the comments on social media, you’d bound to find that most are urging Veveonah to sue Zahidi for defamation. After all, the statement has clearly caused grievances and damages to the public image of Veveonah. Veveonah herself spoke out and said that the accusation has hurt her.
Based on the false nature of the statement, Zahidi is in fact liable under the Defamation Act 1957. Furthermore, it should be a clear cut case considering Zahidi referred to Veveonah directly when making the accusation.
However, a defamation suit is not possible against the Deputy Minister simply because he has spoken the defamatory accusation in Dewan Negara, part of the Malaysian Houses of Parliament.
You see, the highest law of the land, the Federal Constitution prescribes the special privileges of Parliament in Article 63 below:
Specifically, Article 63 (2) and 63 (3) clearly states that no person shall be liable to any proceedings in court for anything said or published by them in either Houses of Parliament. This means that the Judiciary have no jurisdiction over the things said by Zahidi in Dewan Negara thus he have an immunity from being sued for defamation by Veveonah.
Undoubtedly, Zahidi did something wrong and immoral, so what are the actions that can actually be taken against him?
Well, he could be referred to the Senate Committee of Privileges as he has spoken false statement in the Dewan Negara. Through this, not only can Zahidi be punished for his defamatory words, but investigations can also be carried out as to whether he did in fact received ‘inaccurate information’ from his officer or was that just an excuse given for the blunder.
Hopefully this cleared all of your queries as to why Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin can’t be sued for defamation for his defamatory words on Veveonah.
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