From the Selangor Times 20 April 2012. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!

Dear Lord Bobo, a former Sime Darby GM was sentenced to 27 years’ jail for corruption. Is this a sure sign that the justice system is finally taking corruption seriously? (Credit Where Due, via email)

Yes indeed, Md Zaki Othman, a former senior general manager of Sime Darby Engineering was pinged with 27 years’ jail and fined RM894,400 for corruption charges involving more than RM180,000. Md Zaki also faces another 112 months in the slammer (do Malaysian prison cells slam like those on television, or just sort of squeak loudly and shut semi-securely?) if he fails to pay his fine. The crimes involved soliciting and receiving bribes in the form of watches and furniture.

There’s no denying that 27 years’ jail is heavy, but let’s not get too excited and say it shows that the courts are taking corruption seriously.

Late last year, former Selangor MB Khir Toyo was found guilty of purchasing land for RM3.5 million, which was lower than RM6.5 million previously paid for it by the seller. Conflict of interest. Abuse of power. RM3 million. The sentence? 12 months’ jail.

So RM180,000 gets 27 years, and RM3 million gets 12 months. Someone’s calculator must be broken.

Then again, Malaysian courts are not best known for handing out sentences that are proportionate to the crime committed. This month, the Federal Court upheld a one-year jail term imposed on a former imam, Hoslan Hussain, for throwing his shoes at a Federal Court bench in February (he failed to hit any judges, by the way).

Hoslan is a father of seven, and will be locked away for one year. Someone (or a group of someones in elaborate robes and wigs) has obviously lost touch with reality. Whilst Lord Bobo does not condone the act of throwing shoes at judges (perhaps heavier, sharper, and more deadly items would be more appropriate – we’re joking, obviously), the sentence in this case is obviously excessive.

The Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin – who incidentally was one of the judges the shoes were flung towards – said that the act was demeaning, obnoxious, and degrading, and that only a stiff sentence would redeem the dignity of the Federal Court.

His Supreme Eminenceness is of the view that far more demeaning, obnoxious, and degrading acts are committed by individuals within and without the courts on a regular basis.

And it would take more than sending this man to jail for one year to redeem the dignity of the Malaysian judiciary.

Dear Lord Bobo, I’m informed by some lawyerly-types that there are some proposed changes that may make publishing an article with LoyarBurok even riskier than it already is. I am considering writing for the blawg — is it safe? (Gagged, via email)

Much has been discussed about the proposed Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which is currently making its way through Parliament and is meant to replace the infernal and dreaded Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA).

But there is another law that was also introduced around the same time that may impact every single online publication, and the people who work in online publications.

The proposed amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 updates the definition of “computer” in the Act to make it consistent with the definition in the Computer Crimes Act 1997, and also introduces a new section 114A which is on its face quite innocuous. It relates to publications via computers only.

Sub-section (1) says that if you are named or your photograph or pseudonym appears on a publication depicting yourself as “as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or republished the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved”.

So if your name appears on an article, it’s presumed that you published the article. Seems quite reasonable.

But it also includes the “host”, “administrator”, “editor” or “sub-editor” of the publication. So basically, a sub-editor of the Selangor Times online edition, whose name may appear on the same page as an article, but who had nothing to do with the article, may find herself presumed to be the publisher.

Of course, the Selangor Times online rather cleverly has a separate “About Us” page. Which is also the case for most other online news portals or web magazines. And so the list of people who are deemed to have published content is pretty much useless.

What is more troublesome is the presumption applicable to any person “who in any manner facilitates to publish or republish the publication”. The subsection clearly therefore targets internet service providers, the IT department of any large organisation and IT administrators in those departments – all of whom are now deemed to have published an online article.

The sub-section is so wide and so lacking in clarity that it is ripe for abuse.

Sub-sections (2) and (3) provide that the person named as a subscriber for an internet service, and the person named as the owner of a computer, from which a publication originates is deemed to be the publisher. We should therefore expect a lot of places offering free wi-fi to now block emails from being sent out or from people posting on their blogs.

These presumptions will have a chilling effect on free speech, and the freedom of people to use their computers to express themselves.

Luckily, it won’t matter if you write on LoyarBurok since everyone knows who we are, and we don’t generally allow anonymous publications.

So just put your names to your article, upload it from your house computer and say proudly: Liberavi Animam Meam!

Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!

You can read archives of all the Ask Lord Bobo columns by clicking here. These are the divinely-inspired words of His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus PhD SP GBE OMGWTFBBQ.

Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered! It is the ONLY place that...