Appeal - Court

Criminal Law -- Malicious publication of false news -- Detention of under-aged girl published as 'imprisonment' -- Presumption of malicious publication, rebuttal of -- Test applicable -- Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 s 8A(1) Criminal Law -- Sedition -- Publication of false news -- Conviction on uncorroborated evidence of one witness -- Whether witness was corroborated by own former statement -- Seditious Act 1948 s 6(1) -- Evidence Act 1950 ss 73A & 157 The appellant was charged with two offences.

The first charge was under s 8A(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 for maliciously publishing false news in the form of a pamphlet entitled 'Mangsa Dipenjarakan'. The second charge was under s 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 for making a speech which contained seditious words. Both charges were with regard to the non-prosecution of an alleged rape case involving Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik with an under-aged girl. The High Court found the appellant guilty of both charges, convicted and fined him (see [1998] 3 MLJ 14). The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against his convictions and sentences while the Public Prosecutor appealed against the sentences.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant's appeals against convictions and sentences but allowed the Public Prosecutor's cross-appeals and sentenced the appellant to imprisonment (see [1998] 3 MLJ 14). The appellant appealed. Counsel submitted, inter alia, that s 6(1) of the Seditious Act 1948 does not permit conviction of an offence under s 4 on the uncorroborated testimony of one witness. Therefore, according to him, the trial judge was wrong in convicting the appellant on the second charge on the basis of the uncorroborated evidence of Kpl Stanley Liew. The prosecution argued however that, by virtue of s 157 of the Evidence Act 1950, the evidence of Kpl Stanley Liew was corroborated by his own former statement. Held, dismissing the appeal:

1) The words 'mangsa dipenjarakan' as contained in the pamphlet was false because the word 'detention' is not synonymous with 'imprisonment'. It is clear from the definition found in various dictionaries that the word 'prison' relates to a person sent to prison after the court of law has convicted him and sentenced him to a term of imprisonment. Therefore, when the under-aged girl was detained in Bukit Aman and later at Taman Seri Puteri, she was not imprisoned (see p 586B-G). 12000 2 MLJ 577 at 578.

1) Where a person is charged with an offence under s 8A(1), there is a presumption that the accused maliciously published the false news. To rebut the presumption, the accused need only show that prior to publication he has taken reasonable measures to verify the truth of the news. The ordinary man on the street test does not apply in a prosecution under s 8A(1); thus the Court of Appeal had erred in applying the test. However, the words published by the appellant were found to be false and there was no evidence to show that the appellant took Page 3 reasonable measures to verify the truth of the words complained of.

Therefore, the appellant was actuated by actual malice in publishing the words 'Mangsa Dipenjarakan' (see pp 587D-E, I-588D). 1) The court is not precluded from looking at the Record of Parliamentary Debates of the House of Representatives for the purpose of ascertaining whether the appellant had taken reasonable measures in Parliament to verify the truth of the words complained of. Afterexamining the same, it was found that there was no evidence of such measures taken by the appellant (see p 591C-D, G).

1) Despite the trial judge's finding of fact that the appellant's speech was not seditious in respect of the first part of the second charge, he was nonetheless entitled to consider the second part which he did and his decision on the same shall stand (see p 592F-H). 1) As to the alleged contradiction of evidence of the prosecution witnesses, it was held that the trial judge showed judicial appreciation of all the evidence before him and he has every right to reject certain evidence which he finds to be biased and weak (see pp 592H-593A). 1) On the issue of corroboration, the application of s 157 of the Evidence Act 1950 was not contrary to s 6(1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Under s 157, the former statement made by Kpl Stanley Liew is admissible for the purpose of corroborating his testimony. Section 73A of the 1950 Act also does not affect the application of s 157 in the present case as s 73A refers to the question of admissibility of a statement made by a person in civil proceedings only and has no application in criminal cases. Moreover, Stanley Liew's evidence was further corroborated by the evidence of two other prosecution witnesses who are police oficers and who were also present when the appellant made the seditious speech (see pp 608G-H, 613C-E).

1) On the question of sentencing, it was held that the fine imposed by the trial judge was grossly inadequate in view of the seriousness of the offence and the requirement of deterrence. Thus after striking a balance between the interests of the public and the interests of the appellant, the Court of Appeal had rightly applied the deterrence principle in enhancing the sentence to a term of 18 months imprisonment each for both charges (see p 599B-C, E-G). 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 579 Bahasa Malaysia summary Perayu telah dituduh dengan dua kesalahan. Tuduhan pertama adalah di bawah s 8A(1).

Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 iaitu dengan berniat jahat menerbitkan berita palsu dalam bentuk risalah di bawah tajuk 'Mangsa Dipenjarakan'. Tuduhan kedua adalah di bawah s 4(1)(b) Akta Hasutan 1948 kerana membuat ucapan yang mengandungi perkataan-perkataan yang menghasut. Kedua-dua tuduhan adalah berhubung dengan ketiadaan pendakwaan ke atas Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik berhubung dengan pengataan kes rogol gadis di bawah umur. Mahkamah Tinggi mendapati perayu bersalah di atas kedua-dua tuduhan, disabitkan dan didenda (lihat [1998] 3 MLJ 14).

Perayu merayu kepada Mahkamah Rayuan terhadap kedua-dua sabitan dan hukuman sementara pihak Pendakwa Raya membuat rayuan berhubung dengan hukuman. Mahkamah Rayuan menolak rayuan perayu untuk kedua-dua sabitan dan hukuman tetapi membenarkan rayuan balas Pendakwa Raya dan menjatuhkan hukuman penjara ke atas perayu (lihat [1998] 3 MLJ 14). Perayu membuat rayuan. Peguam berhujah, antara lain, yang s 6(1) Akta Hasutan 1948 tidak membolehkan sabitan atas tuduhan di bawah s 4 berdasarkan testimoni seorang saksi tanpa keterangan sokongan.

Oleh itu, mengikut beliau, hakim yang membicarakan kes tersebut melakukan kesilapan apabila perayu disabitkan atas tuduhan kedua berasaskan keterangan Kpl Stanley Liew. Bagaimanapun, pihak pendakwa berhujah yang keterangan Kpl Stanley Liew disokong oleh pernyataan beliau yang terdahulu, berasaskan kepada s 157 Akta Keterangan 1950. Diputuskan, menolak rayuan tersebut: 2) Perkatan-perkataan 'mangsa dipenjarakan' sebagai mana terkandung di dalam risalah tersebut adalah palsu kerana perkataan 'tahanan' adalah tidak sama dengan 'dipenjarakan'. Adalah jelas daripada beberapa kamus yang perkataan 'penjara' berkait dengan seseorang dihantar ke penjara selepas mahkamah undang-undang telah membuat sabitan dan menjatuhkan.

Page 4 hukuman penjara ke atasnya. Oleh itu, apabila budak perempuan bawah umur tersebut ditahan di Bukit Aman dan kemudianya di Taman Seri Puteri, dia tidak dipenjarakan (lihat ms 586B-G). 2) Apabila seseorang dituduh dengan satu kesalahan di bawah s 8A(1), terdapat satu anggapan yang tertuduh telah menerbitkan berita palsu dengan niat jahat. Untuk mematahkan anggapan tersebut, tertuduh hanya perlu menunjukkan yang dia telah mengambil langkah-langkah yang munasabah untuk menentusah kebenaran berita tersebut. Ujian orang kebiasaan tidak terdapat dalam pendakwaan di bawah s 8A(1); oleh itu, Mahkamah Rayuan telah silap dalam

menggunakan ujian tersebut. Walau bagaimanapun, perkataan-perkataan yang digunakan oleh perayu didapati palsu dan tidak terdapat keterangan untuk menunjukkan 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 580 yang perayu telah mengambil langkah-langkah yang manasabah untuk menentusah kebenaran perkataan-perkataan yang dipertikaikan. Oleh itu, perayu dalam menerbitkan perkataan-perkataan 'Mangsa Dipenjarakan' sebenarnya adalah didorong oleh niat jahat (lihat ms 587D-E, I-588D).

2) Mahkamah tidak disekat daripada melihat Rekod Perbahasan Parlimen Dewan Perwakilan bagi tujuan memastikan sama ada perayu telah mengambil langkah-langkah yang manasabah di Parlimen untuk menentusah kebenaran perkataan-perkataan yang dipertikaikan. Selepas memeriksa rekod tersebut, didapati tidak terdapat keterangan yang perayu telah berbuat demikian (lihat ms 591C-D, G). 2) Walaupun hakim yang membicarakan kes mendapati sebagai fakta bahawa ucapan perayu adalah tidak menghasut berhubung dengan bahagian pertama tuduhan kedua, beliau masih berhak untuk mempertimbangkan bahagian kedua yang mana beliau telah lakukan dan keputusan beliau berhubung perkara ini adalah terpakai (lihat ms 592F-H).

2) Berhubung dengan penyataan terdapat percanggahan melibatkan keterangan saksi-saksi pendakwa, adalah diputuskan bahawa hakim perbicaraan telah menunjukkan penilaian kehakiman yang meliputi semua keterangan dan beliau berhak untuk menolak keterangan- keterangan tertentu yang beliau dapati berat sebelah atau lemah (lihat ms 592H-593A). 2) Berhubungan dengan isu sokongan keterangan, pemakaian s 157 Akta Keterangan 1950 adalah tidak bercanggah dengan s 6(1) Akta Hasutan 1948. Untuk tujuan s 157, penyataan terdahulu yang dibuat Kpl Stanley Liew boleh diterima untuk tujuan menyokong terstimoni beliau.

Seksyen 73A Akta tahun 1950 itu juga tidak mengubah pemakaian s 157 untuk kes ini kerana s 73A merujuk kepada persoalan boleh terima pernyataan yang dibuat oleh seseorang dalam prosiding sivil dan tidak terpakai dalam kes-kes jenayah. Tambahan pula, keterangan Stanley Liew telah juga disokong oleh keterangan oleh dua orang saksi pendakwa yang merupakan pegawai-pegawai polis yang juga hadir apabila perayu membuat ucapan yang menghasut tersebut(lihat ms 593F-H, 596C-E). 2) Untuk persoalan hukuman, diputuskan yang denda yang dikenakan oleh hakim perbicaraan adalah terlalu tidak memadai mengambil kira keseriusan kesalahan dan keperluan deteren.

Oleh itu, selepas mengambil kira kepentingan awam dan kepentingan perayu, Mahkamah Rayuan telah menggunakan prinsip deteren secara betul dengan menambah hukuman kepada penjara selama 18 bulan untuk setiap tuduhan (lihat ms 599B-C, E-G). ] 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 581 Notes For cases on Sedition Act 1948 generally, see 4 Mallal's Digest (4th Ed, 1996 Reissue) paras 2029-2036. Cases referred to Aziz bin Muhamad Din v PP [1996] 5 MLJ 473 (refd) Bradlaugh v Gossett (1884) 12 QBD 271 (refd) Church of Scientology of California v Johnson-Smith [1972] 1 All ER 378 (refd) Page 5.

Inspector-General of Police & Anor v Lee Kim Hoong [1979] 2 MLJ 291 (refd) Karpal Singh v Sultan of Selangor [1988] 1 MLJ 64 (refd) Karthiyayani & Anor v Lee Leong Sin & Anor [1975] 1 MLJ 119 (refd) Liew Wah Ming v PP [1963] 2 MLJ 82 (refd) Lim Guan Eng v PP [1998] 3 MLJ 14 (refd) Lim Yow Choon v PP [1972] 1 MLJ 205 (refd) Mark Koding v PP [1982] 2 MLJ 120 (refd) Mohamed Ali v PP [1962] 2 MLJ 230 (refd) Mohamed Alias v PP [1983] 2 MLJ 172 (refd) Pie B En Chin @ Mohamed bin Chin v PP [1983] 1 CLJ 316 (refd) PP v Datuk Haji Harun bin Haji Idris [1977] 1 MLJ 15 (refd) PP v Mark Koding [1983] 1 MLJ 111 (refd).

PP v Pung Chen Choon [1994] 1 MLJ 566 (refd) PP v Samsul Kamar bin Mohd Zain [1988] 2 MLJ 252 (refd) R v Koh Soon Poh [1935] MLJ 120 (refd) R v Velayuthan [1935] MLJ 277 (refd) Seena Pakkeer Mohamed & Ors v Pana Kader Merah [1896] SSLR 84 (refd) Stockdale v Hansard [1839] 9 Ad & EI 1 (refd) Times Publishing Bhd & Ors v S Sivadas [1988] 3 MLJ 1 (refd) TN Nathan v PP [1978] 1 MLJ 134 (refd) Legislation referred to Bill of Rights 1688. art 9 Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1971 s (4) Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crimes) Ordinance 1969 Evidence Act 1950 ss 73A(7), 157 Federal Constitution arts 63, 150(1).

Penal Code s 376 Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 ss 2, 8A(1), 8A(2) Sedition Act 1948 ss 2, 3, 4(1)(b), 6(1) Women and Girls Protection Act 1973 s 8(4)(a) 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 582 Appeal from Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Nos M-05-31 of 1997, M-05-32 of 1997, M-05-33 of 1997 and M-05-05 of 1997 (Court of Appeal, Kuala Lumpur) Karpal Singh ( J Amardas, Jagdeep Singh Deo and Gobind Singh Deo with him) ( Karpal Singh & Co) for the appellant. Page 6 Azahar Mohammed( Yusof Zainal Abidin and LC Tay with him) (Deputy Public Prosecutors, Attorney General's Chambers) for the respondent. ZAKARIA YATIM FCJ.

(delivering judgment of the court): The appellant was charged with two offences. The first charge was under s 8A(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and the second charge was under s 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948. He was tried before Mohd Noor Abdullah J, in the High Court, Melaka. At the end of the trial, the learned judge found him guilty of both charges, convicted him and fined him RM10,000 in default six months imprisonment on the first charge and RM5,000 in default three months imprisonment on the second charge. The appellant appealed against his convictions and sentences.

The public prosecutor appealed against sentences. There were four appeals before the Court of Appeal. On 1 April 1998, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant's appeals against convictions and sentences. It allowed the public prosecutor's cross appeals and sentenced the appellant to eighteen months imprisonment on each charge. The appellant appealed to this court against the decision of the Court of Appeal. We heard the appeals and on 25 August 1998. We dismissed all the four appeals and confirmed the convictions and sentences passed by the Court of Appeal. We ordered the sentences to take effect from 25 August 1998.

On that date we indicated that we would give our written judgment at a later date. This is my written judgment. The first charge against the appellant was that in January 1995 in the district of Melaka Tengah, Melaka, he maliciously published false news namely, 'MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN' and thereby committed an offence under s 8A(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and punishable under the same section. The second charge was that on 19 January 1995 at about 9. 40pm at Dewan Permai Sari in Hotel Emperor, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Melaka, the appellant made a speech which contained seditious words, namely:

1a) he was dissatisfied with the laws of Malaysia in that it had a double standard whereby a rape case involving Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik was not brought to court and the Attorney General said that Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik was not involved in a rape case with an underaged girl; 1b) he was dissatisfied with the decision of the court to detain the girl involved for a period of three years. Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik should be sent to prison but instead the person who contravened the law was allowed to go free.

The two charges against the appellant were in Bahasa Malaysia and we think it is appropriate to set out the two charges here: 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 583 PERTUDUHAN BAHAWA KAMU PADA BULAN JANUARI 1995 DI DALAM DAERAH MELAKA TENGAH, DALAM NEGERI MELAKA, DALAM SATU PENERBITAN RISALAH YANG BERTAJUK CERAMAH 'KISAH BENAR' DENGAN NIAT JAHAT TELAH MENERBITKAN BERITA YANG TIDAK BENAR IAITU:

'MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN' OLEH YANG DEMIKIAN, KAMU TELAH MELAKUKAN SATU KESALAHAN DI BAWAH S 8A(1) AKTA MESIN CETAK DAN PENERBITAN 1984 (AKTA 301) DAN BOLEH DIHUKUM DI BAWAH S 8A(1) AKTA YANG SAMA. PERTUDUHAN BAHAWA KAMU PADA 19 JANUARI 1995 JAM LEBIH KURANG 9. 40 MALAM, DI DEWAN PERMAI SARI, TINGKAT TIGA, DI HOTEL EMPEROR, JALAN MUNSHI ABDULLAH, DI DALAM DAERAH MELAKA TENGAH, DALAM NEGERI MELAKA, TELAH MEMBERIKAN UCAPAN DALAM CERAMAH DENGAN MENYEBUT KATA-KATA YANG MENGHASUT IAITU:

Page 7 (A) BAHAWA KAMU MENYATAKAN YANG KAMU TIDAK PUAS HATI DENGAN UNDANG-UNDANG DI MALAYSIA KERANA 'DOUBLE-STANDARD' YANG MENYEBABKAN KES ROGOL YANG MELIBATKAN TAN SRI RAHIM THAMBY CHIK TIDAK DIHADAPKAN KE MAHKAMAH DAN PEGUAM NEGARA TELAH MENYATAKAN TAN SRI RAHIM THAMBY CHIK TIDAK TERLIBAT DALAM KES ROGOL PEREMPUAN BAWAH UMUR. (B)

BAHAWA KAMU MENYATAKAN YANG KAMU TIDAK PUAS HATI MAHKAMAH MEMBERIKAN KEPUTUSAN SUPAYA GADIS YANG TERLIBAT DALAM KES ROGOL ITU DITAHAN SELAMA TIGA TAHUN. SEBENARNYA TAN SRI RAHIM THAMBY CHIK PATUT DIMASUKKAN KE PENJARA DAN SEBALIKNYA ORANG YANG MELANGGAR UNDANG-UNDANG DIBEBASKAN. YANG MEMPUNYAI KECENDERUNGAN BAGI MENDATANGKAN BENCI ATAU PENGHINAAN ATAU BAGI MEMBANGKITKAN PERASAAN TIDAK SUKA TERHADAP PENTADBIRAN KEADILAN DALAM MALAYSIA DAN OLEH YANG DEMIKIAN, KAMU TELAH MELAKUKAN SATU KESALAHAN DI BAWAH S 4(1)(B) AKTA HASUTAN 1948 (AKTA 15) DAN BOLEH DIHUKUM DI BAWAH S 4(1) AKTA YANG SAMA.

The evidence adduced at the trial is clearly set out in the grounds of judgment of the trial judge. Briefly, the facts are that the media, in particular the Utusan Malaysia published the news alleging that Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik, the then Chief Minister of Melaka had a sexual relationship with an underaged school girl. On the basis of the media information, ACP Mok Siew Hong, who was the head of the Criminal Investigation Division, Melaka, lodged a police report at the Melaka Tengah Police Station on 29 August 1994, regarding the alleged sexual relationship of Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik. The police investigated the case.

The investigation papers were sent to the Attorney-General's Office. The attorney-general, in his capacity as public prosecutor, decided not to prosecute Tan Sri Rahim on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him. The girl in question did not lodge a police report against Tan Sri Rahim on the alleged sexual relationship. She however lodged police reports against fourteen other persons alleging that they had sexual relationship with her. The fourteen persons were charged in court. Eight pleaded guilty and was sentenced by the court. The other six claimed trial. At the beginning of the investigation into Tan Sri Rahim's case, the girl in question was kept in police custody at Bukit Aman with the written.

2000 2 MLJ 577 at 584 consent of her father. On 30 November 1994, the magistrate in Kuala Lumpur ordered that the girl be detained at Taman Seri Puteri, Rembau, Negeri Sembilan under s 8(4)(a) of the Women and Girls Protection Act 1973 for a period of three years. The girl's grandmother was not happy with the said order and filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the High Court, Kuala Lumpur. The High Court dismissed the application. In October 1994, the appellant raised the issue of the alleged sexual relationship between Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik and the said underaged girl in Parliament.

On 19 January 1995, the appellant held a ceramah (a public talk) at the Emperor Hotel, Melaka. He also distributed pamphlets inviting people to attend the ceramah. The heading of the pamphlets reads: CERAMAH 'KISAH BENAR' ... TAN SRI ABDUL RAHIM THAMBY CHIK SEX SCANDAL ... WITHER JUSTICE AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS, VICTIM IMPRISONED, CRIMINAL FREE At the ceramah the appellant spoke for about 45 minutes before an audience of about 300 people, mostly Malays. In his speech, the appellant told the gathering that the laws of this country had a double-standard. He said that the attorney-general decided not to prosecute Tan Sri Rahim.

But the court detained the innocent girl for a period of three years. He added that Tan Sri Rahim should have been imprisoned for violating the law. Subsequently a police report was lodged. At the conclusion of the police investigations, the appellant was charged in court with the two offences as stated above. At the hearing of the appeals before this court, Mr Karpal Singh, counsel for the appellant raised a number of issues. The first issue was on the question of jurisdiction. Mr Karpal Singh argued that the resident judge in Page 8 Melaka should have presided at the trial of his client and not a judge from Seremban.

He added that the learned judge from Seremban could only hear the case in Melaka on the instruction of the Chief Judge of Malaya. The Honourable Chief Justice of the Federal Court, explained that in this particular case the President of the Court of Appeal, who was the Acting Chief Judge of Malaya at the material time, gave the direction to the judge in Seremban, Mohd Noor Abdullah J to hear the case in Melaka. After the explanation, Mr Karpal Singh did not pursue the point.

He then proceeded to ground three of the petition, which states that the learned trial judge, after 'delivering a deraf keputusan [draft judgment]... was precluded subsequently from handing down written judgment dated 28 February 1997 [which must have been written on some date after 28 April 1997]... '. The 'deraf keputusan' of the trial judge was made on 28 April 1997. It was his draft decision on the case for the defence. He found the appellant guilty and convicted him on both charges. After hearing the plea in mitigation, he sentenced the appellant. It is to be noted that on 20 November 1996 the trial judge read his grounds of decision when he called on the appellant to enter his defence on the two charges.

In our view, the 'deraf keputusan' is not a judgment of the case. There was only one 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 585 judgment before the Court of Appeal and that is the grounds of judgment which was written separately. On the last page of the judgment, the date of decision (tarikh keputusan) was 28 February 1997. Mr Karpal Singh questioned the validity of that judgment. He accepted however that it was typing error. He said that the judgment must have been written after 28 April 1997. He submitted that the date could not be ascertained and there was no way of ascertaining the date.

He argued that the judgment was a nullity and asked this court to order a retrial. The Court of Appeal rightly decided that the judgment was erroneously dated 28 February 1997 and proceeded to amend the date to 28 April. The court said that the judgment must have been written on some date after 28 April 1997. It concluded that the date was a typographical error that occasioned no miscarriage of justice. The court went on to state (per Gopal Sri Ram JCA in Lim Guan Eng v PP [1998] 3 MLJ 14 (CA) at p 39: WE ARE THEREFORE OF THE VIEW THAT NO PREJUDICE WHATSOEVER HAS BEEN VISITED UPON THE APPELLANT BY REASON OF THE MATTERS.

COMPLAINED OF BY HIM IN THIS REGARD AND THAT THE CONVICTIONS ENTERED AGAINST HIM HAVE IN NO WAY BEEN VITIATED BY THE ERROR IN THE DATE APPEARING ON THE WRITTEN JUDGMENT. We think the Court of Appeal was right in arriving at the above conclusion and we need not elaborate any further. We now turn to the substantive issues. As stated earlier, the first charge against the appellant was in respect of an offence under s 8A(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. Section 8A(1) and (2) states: (1) WHERE IN ANY PUBLICATION THERE IS MALICIOUSLY PUBLISHED ANY FALSE NEWS, THE PRINTER, PUBLISHER, EDITOR.

AND THE WRITER THEREOF SHALL BE GUILTY OF OFFENCE AND SHALL, ON CONVICTION, BE LIABLE TO IMPRISONMENT FOR A TERM NOT EXCEEDING THREE YEARS OR TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING TWENTY THOUSAND RINGGIT OR TO BOTH. (2) FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, MALICE SHALL BE PRESUMED IN DEFAULT OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT, PRIOR TO PUBLICATION, THE ACCUSED TOOK REASONABLE MEASURES TO VERIFY THE TRUTH OF THE NEWS. The false news alleged to have been published by the appellant was 'MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN'. The word 'mangsa' refers to the underaged girl. In his grounds of judgment, the trial judge made the following finding at p 143 of Vol II of the Appeal Record.

MENURUT ACP MOK SIEW HOONG (SP12) YANG MENYIASAT KES SKENDAL SEX TAN SRI RAHIM, BERITA MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN DALAM RISALAH ITU ADALAH TIDAK BENAR, GADIS BAWAH UMUR ITU TIDAK DIPENJARAKAN DALAM ERTIKATA GADIS ITU DIDAKWA DI MAHKAMAH, DISABITKAN KESALAHAN DAN DIHUKUM PENJARA. GADIS ITU DITAHAN DALAM SIASATAN DAN DILETAK BAWAH JAGAAN POLIS DI BALAI POLIS JALAN TRAVERS DAN KEMUDIAN DI BUKIT AMAN. KELUARGA MELAWATNYA, BAPA MEMBERI KEIZINAN MENAHANNYA. SELEPAS ITU MAJISTRET MEMERINTAHKAN GADIS ITU DITAHAN SELAMA TIGA TAHUN DI PUSAT PERLINDUNGAN GADIS DAN WANITA DI TAMAN SERI PUTERI, REMBAU, NEGERI SEMBILAN.

NENEK GADIS ITU TIDAK BERSETUJU DAN 2000 2 MLJ 577 AT 586 Page 9 MENGEMUKAKAN PERMOHONAN HABEAS CORPUS UNTUK MEMBATALKAN PERINTAH MAJISTRET ITU TETAPI HAKIM MAHKAMAH TINGGI KUALA LUMPUR MENOLAK PERMOHONAN NENEK ITU. MAKA JELASLAH GADIS ITU TIDAK DIPENJARAKAN. BERITA MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN ADALAH BERITA TIDAK BENAR. [EMPHASIS ADDED. ] He also found that the appellant maliciously published the words in question (ibib, p 144). The Court of Appeal agreed with the finding of the trial judge. Mr Karpal Singh submitted that there was no denial that the underaged girl was detained at Bukit Aman and subsequently at Taman Seri Puteri.

He argued that the word 'detention' is synonymous with 'imprisonment'. In support of his argument he referred to the following dictionaries. The Law Lexicon with Legal Maxims edited by P Ramanatha Aiyar, 1992 at p 558; Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, (5th Ed) Vol 3 at p 1222; Law Terms & Phrases Judicially Interpreted, published in Lahore at p 454; Kamus Bahasa Melayu Utusan at p 1400; Words & Phrases -- Permanent Ed Vol 20 at p 467; and The Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th Ed, 1995) at p 683. We have read the definitions of the words 'imprisonment' and 'Penjara' in those dictionaries and we find the definitions are too general and vague.

These definitions are not helpful at all. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, however, gives a clearer definition. According to the Dictionary, 'prison' means 'to put in prison, make a prisoner of, to keep in a place of confinement, to detain in custody. ' The word 'prisoner' is defined as 'One who is kept in prison or custody ... one who is in custody as a result of a legal process. ' The Daftar Istilah Undang-Undang (Bahasa Inggeris -- Bahasa Malaysia) (1990) states that prison' is 'penjara'. It is clear therefore that a person is sent to prison after the court of law has convicted him and sentenced him to a term of imprisonment. From the evidence, the underaged girl was kept in protective custody in Bukit Aman with the written consent of her father.

On 30 November 1994, the magistrate in Kuala Lumpur ordered the girl to be detained at Taman Seri Puteri under s 8(4)(a) of the Women & Girls Protection Act. Under the section a magistrate may order a female person to be detained in a place of refuge for a period of three years if he is satisfied that the female person is in need of protection. Therefore when the girl was detained in Bukit Aman and later at Taman Seri Puteri she was not imprisoned.

The trial judge concluded that the words 'mangsa dipenjarakan' as contained in the pamphlet was false. The Court of Appeal agreed with his conclusion. We, too, agree with his conclusion in the circumstances of this case. The Court of Appeal said that the test to be applied in a case under s 8A(1) of the PPPA is that of the ordinary man on the street. In its judgment, the court said at p 42: IT MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN THAT THE OFFENDING PAMPHLET WAS DIRECTED AT ALL AND SUNDRY. IN OUR JUDGMENT, THE TEST THAT IS TO BE APPLIED IN A CASE UNDER S 8A(1) IS THAT OF THE ORDINARY MAN ON THE STREET. HE IS NOT ONE WHO HABITUALLY CARRIES.

2000 2 MLJ 577 AT 587 WITH HIM LEADING DICTIONARIES OF THE MALAY OR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. HE DOES NOT EXAMINE THE WORDS ADDRESSED TO HIM BY REFERRING TO SUCH WORKS. HE IS NOT A LAWYER WHO IS POSSESSED OF KNOWLEDGE OF TECHNICAL TERMS. HE IS ONE WHO ACCEPTS THEM IN THE SENSE IN WHICH THEY ARE ORDINARILY USED. HE HAS NO SPECIALISED KNOWLEDGE UPON THE SUBJECT TO WHICH THE WORDS RELATE. HE HAS IN HIS POSSESSION ONLY SUCH GENERAL INFORMATION AS IS AVAILABLE TO ALL AND SUNDRY. THE QUESTION THEN TO BE ASKED IS: WHAT WOULD THE WORDS 'MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN' CONVEY TO SUCH A MAN IN THEIR ORDINARY SENSE?

In our view when a person is charged under s 8A(1) of the Act, the prosecution need only to prove the following: 2a) There must be a publication. A publication includes a document, newspaper, book, periodical, all written or printed matter and anything which by its form, shape or in any manner is capable of suggesting words or ideas (see s 2 of the Act). 2b) The publication contains false news. 1c) The accused maliciously published the false news. The accused may be the printer, publisher, editor or the writer of the false news.

Page 10 Where there is a publication containing false news, there is a presumption that the accused maliciously published the said false news. Under sub-s 2, malice shall be presumed in default of evidence showing that prior to publication the accused took reasonable measures to verify the truth of the news. What we have just stated is consistent with the view held by the Supreme Court in PP v Pung Chen Choon [1994] 1 MLJ 566. In delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court, Edgar Joseph Jr SCJ said at p 577: IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT PUBLICATIONS INTENDED TO BE HIT BY S 8A(1) OF THE ACT WERE ONLY THOSE WHEREIN WERE MALICIOUSLY PUBLISHED ANY FALSE NEWS. IN OTHER WORDS, THE MERE PUBLICATION OF FALSE NEWS IN ANY PUBLICATION IS NOT AN OFFENCE UNDER S 8A(2).

TO BE SO, THE FALSE NEWS MUST HAVE BEEN MALICIOUSLY PUBLISHED. WE DID NOT CONSIDER IT NECESSARY FOR PURPOSES OF THE PRESENT REFERENCE TO DETERMINE WHAT ELEMENT OF MENS REA IS REQUIRED TO BE PROVED FOR AN OFFENCE UNDER S 8A(1). HOWEVER, WE WOULD REMARK THAT A QUICK LOOK AT THE ACT SHOWS THAT THE WORD 'MALICIOUSLY' IS NOWHERE DEFINED HEREIN, BUT WE THINK IT WOULD NOT BE INCORRECT TO SAY THAT THE WORD 'MALICIOUSLY' IN THE CONTEXT OF S 8A(1), BEARS ITS ORDINARY MEANING IN ACTS CREATING CRIMINAL OFFENCES, NAMELY, WILFULLY OR INTENTIONALLY AND WITHOUT LAWFUL EXCUSE ...

AS FOR THE PRESUMPTION UNDER S 8A(1) THAT MALICE SHALL BE PRESUMED IN DEFAULT OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT, PRIOR TO PUBLICATION, AN ACCUSED HAD TAKEN REASONABLE MEASURES TO VERIFY THE TRUTH OF THE NEWS, THIS IS MERELY A REVERSAL OF ONUS PROVISION, DESIGNED TO ASSIST THE PROSECUTION IN ESTABLISHING A CASE TO ANSWER, IF, BUT ONLY IF, IT IS PROVED THAT THE NEWS CONCERNED IS FALSE. From the passage quoted above, it appears that mens rea need not be proved separately because the word 'maliciously' means 'wilfully or intentionally and without lawful excuse'.

In its judgment in PP v Pung Chen Choon, the Supreme Court made no reference at all to the ordinary man on the street test. In our opinion, 2000 2 MLJ 577 at 588 when a person is charged with an offence under s 8A(1), the prosecution had to prove that the accused maliciously published the false news. To rebut the presumption the accused need only to show that he has taken reasonable measures to verify the truth of the news. The ordinary man on the street test does not apply in a prosecution under s 8A(1). It is not one of the ingredients of the offence under the section.

Accordingly we hold that the Court of Appeal had erred in applying the test. The Court of Appeal, however, agreed with the trial judge that the words 'mangsa dipenjarakan' were false. Having found that the words published by the appellant were false, the trial judge went on to consider whether the appellant took reasonable measures to verify the truth of the words published. He concluded that there was no evidence that the appellant took reasonable measures to verify the words published. Indeed the trial judge found that the appellant knew that the girl was in custody at Bukit Aman.

The trial judge went on to state: TERTUDUH TAHU GADIS ITU TIDAK DIKURUNG DALAM PENJARA KERANA GADIS ITU IALAH MANGSA SEX. TERTUDUH TAHU GADIS ITU DITAHAN POLIS DI BUKIT AMAN. TERTUDUH TELAH BERUCAP DI PARLIMEN DENGAN TELITI MENYATAKAN 'GADIS ITU DITAHAN POLIS' PADA 30 OGOS 1994, 'GADIS ITU DALAM KURUNGAN POLIS' (DISIARKAN DALAM PENYATA RASMI PARLIMEN -- EKSH P20) DAN TIDAK SEKALIPUN TERTUDUH BERUCAP 'GADIS ITU DIPENJARAKAN'. PERDANA MENTERI DAN DATO' SYED HAMID ALBAR MENJELASKAN GADIS ITU DIBERI PERLINDUNGAN SEMASA DALAM SIASATAN. MAKA SIARAN BERITA 'MANGSA DIPENJARAKAN' DALAM RISALAH P11B CIPTAAN TERTUDU.