Monday, April 22

AG: Gag order doesn’t mean media blackout on Najib’s case, but best ask lawyers


KUCHING: News outlets may keep reporting on Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s cases over the RM42 million allegedly misappropriated from a former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) unit, the Attorney General (AG) suggested when commenting on a gag order issued by the High Court today.

However, Malay Mail Online reported Tommy Thomas as saying that the press should consult with independent lawyers on the full effects of the interim order secured by Najib’s counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

“I think the interim (gag order) is only (on) SRC (International) and the charges.

“Read the four charges, go and consult good lawyers, let them tell you your rights. It’s limited to SRC,” he was quoted as saying in a press conference outside a High Court courtroom where Najib pleaded not guilty earlier to all four charges.

Thomas also insisted that today’s proceedings were entirely open to reporting.

“I assure you, you can report what happened in court today because that is actually what happened,” he said.

The media were earlier told that the gag order was limited to the “merits of the case”.

Earlier in the press conference, Thomas also said Shafee was the best person to comment on the scope of the order, as it stemmed from his request.

However, the AG said his office will apply to set aside the gag order that is now in place until August.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah — Bernama photo

Meanwhile,  in a separate report, Muhammad Shafee  said a temporary gag order on Najib’s two criminal cases in court today applies to the former prime minister as well, as it is aimed at ensuring a fair trial and avoiding prejudging.

Malay Mail Online reported Muhammad Shafee as saying that the gag order is to “ensure nobody makes unfair comments about the merits of the case in order to get it published by media”.

“The gag order is basically for media not to print.

“Doesn’t matter who spoke about it, it can be the chairman of MACC, it can be the commissioner of MACC, could be the minister of finance.

“It could be Datuk Seri Najib himself, if he keeps on saying he’s innocent because of this, because of that. He too is prohibited, so that let the court decide,” he was quoted as saying.

When asked what the consequences of a breach of the gag order would be, Shafee said: “It’ll be a contempt of court.”