Fahmi Fadzil is a blogger who was formerly trained as a chemical engineer. He is also the political secretary to Lembah Pantai MP and PKR Vice President Nurul Izzah, the daughter of opposition de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim. He has over 4,300 twittter followers and has close to 20,000 tweets with the most recent spike related to his out-of-court settlement – tweet 100 times a day, over three days.
Apparently he wrote that a friend had been treated poorly by her employers at Female magazine because she was pregnant, resulting in her tendering her resignation. “My friend’s wife, who works at FEMALE magazine, has tendered her resignation because they’re giving her so much shit because she’s pregnant,” he wrote on Jan 25. However, realising his mistake, Fahmi wrote an apology several hours later on the same day – “I would like to formally & unequivocally apologise to Blu Inc and FEMALE mag for my tweets earlier today. All inconveniences are regretted,”
But that was not enough for the publisher of popular magazines of “Her World”, “Glam and Eh!”, as well as the licensee for “Men’s Health” and “Seventeen”. Fahmi was slapped with a letter from Blu Inc’s lawyer demanding a letter of apology, pays damages and also takes out advertisements in daily newspapers. But there was no way he can raise tens of thousands of ringgit for the newspaper advertisements. The settlement was rather amusing as it refresh the memory of the same punishment when you gotten too naughty at home.
Fahmi was to tweet 100 times a day, over three days – “I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR (human resource) Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize.” This is perhaps the first of its kind, at least in Malaysia. On the surface, it seems like a win-win solution for both parties – Fahmi would not be charged in court and Blu Inc gets the free (cheap) publicity. But is this too childish on the part of Blu Inc, who publishes more than 20 liefstyle magazines?
Malaysian authorities particularly the politicians from the ruling government are known notoriously for arresting or filing charges against anyone who made statements on Facebook opposing them; and there were several several people who has been charged for allegedly insulted the country’s royalty or stirred religious tensions. Recently, a government minister (everybody knows who he is) has also filed a defamation suit against a blogger who accused him of raping an Indonesian housemaid.
Nevertheless, this latest unusual penalty or settlement has instantly put Malaysia on the world map as the news was instantly picked up around the globe – from CNBC to Forbes. Many think this was unnecessary as it was a petty case but Blu Inc being in the publishing business knows when to promote itself. Whether this will help to sell its range of magazines is another matter. It seems Blu Inc believed such statement from Fahmi was defamatory. If this case goes to court it might take years to reach a conclusion, not to mention such case would not do any good for both parties.
Sympatizers with Fahmi would probably launch campaigns boycotting the magazines while Fahmi may go bankrupt because of legal fees. Surely Blu Inc’s magazines sales would not spike even if it win the case. It would be a different story altogether if Fahmi was a model with Blu Inc who complained that he was forced to strip naked by the company because he didn’t notice the fine prints in the modelling contract. Furthermore Fahmi did the correct thing by apologizing to Blue Inc the moment he realized his mistake, didn’t he? Anyway, he is a celebrity now (*grin*).
So, why was Blu Inc playing hard ball and do the stupid thing by demanding such a childish punishment? In actual fact, the more you think and read about the 100 per day tweets punishment on Fahmi’s twitter, the more you’ll sympatize with him. Will this get people to be more careful about what they express online? Maybe. Will people think Blu Inc was generous not to sue Fahmi hence it would promote Blu Inc’s sales? Absolutely not. Heck, if there was defamatory element in Fahmi’s statement, then all the politicians including the prime minister would be busy tweeting 100 times a day for the next couple of decades simply because these politicians lie everyday.
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