FAHMI FADZIL IS is around 20 tweets into the 100 apologies he has to make to a media company in Malaysia after reached a settlement deal to avoid being sued for defamation.
Fahmi reached the unusual settlement with Blu Inc media in March, after it became clear that he did not have the money to pay to have his apology printed in a newspaper. He will tweet his message 100 times, every half an hour, over the next three days to more than 4,200 followers.
Fahmi is a opposition politician’s aide and a respected commentator on social issues. He claimed on Twitter in January that his pregnant friend had been poorly treated by her employers at a magazine run by Blu Inc.
Fahmi wrote an apology to BluInc on Twitter a few hours after making that allegation, but the company’s lawyers later sent him a letter demanding unspecified financial damages for defamation and another apology in major newspapers. BluInc publishes more than 20 lifestyle and health magazines in Malaysia.
Fahmi told his followers he could not elaborate on the case, but many prominent Twitter users in Malaysia voiced sympathy for him.
“First time witnessing a ‘community service sentence’ on Twitter,” blogger Christopher Tock wrote. “Will this be something common in future years?”
Syahredzan Johan, Fahmi’s lawyer, said it was believed to be the first settlement involving the use of Twitter in a Malaysian defamation case.
“We’re in uncharted waters,” Syahredzan said, adding that the case could cause Malaysians to become more aware of the repercussions of their comments on social media.
Over the past year, Malaysian authorities have arrested or charged several people who made statements on Facebook that allegedly insulted the country’s royalty or stirred religious tensions. A government minister has also filed a defamation suit against a blogger who accused him of raping an Indonesian housemaid.
- Additional reporting by AP