International Malaysian Law Conference 2012

Couple of weeks ago, fellow blogger Su Ann of told me that her boyfriend read my blog when he was still an aspiring lawyer. I was rather surprise as I’ve neglected this space for some time. Anyway, Hi! Su Ann’s bf if you’re reading this.

The conversation hit some distant memories of mine. Throughout my 7 years of practice, I had many lawyers coming up to me telling me that they read my blog when they were still in university. I’m glad that I’ve been a source of entertainment for them over these years.

With that, I’ll leave some tips and trick on legal practice in some of my future postings for the benefit of fellow lawyers and aspiring lawyers.

In September 2012, I spoke at the International Malaysian Law Conference (IMLC). The IMLC traces it roots back to 1973 when it was known as the Malaysian Law Conference. This 3 days event broke the conventional by welcoming the participation of the general public, and especially entrepreneurs and role players. Throughout this three (3) days event, numerous sessions with interesting topics are held for the benefit of participants. Prime Minister Najib Razak officiated the event.

My topic was “Social Media: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. The other speakers were from a local large firm, a large Singaporean firm and a Queen’s Counsel. I was the small kucirat within these senior practitioners. It was daunting especially when I am the youngest and I no longer have a large firm to back me up.

Part of the crowd. I think the hall was too big for the crowd

I wanted to speak on s. 114A of the Evidence Act 1950 but I found out that there was another session covering the same topic. Few days before the event, I suddenly thought of the topic Malaysian social media disasters. I asked a question on Twitter and Facebook for feedback on Malaysia’s worst social media disasters and I had numerous feedback. I managed to compile a presentation slide within a few hours.

Me on the far right checking out the tweets about the event. Twitterjaya was not kind to speakers who bore them.

The speaker before me, Alex Charlton QC, had a very soothing voice to mesmerise the crowd. Some say it was sexy. With a voice like his, any boring presentation will be interesting.

When it came to my turn, I started my speech with, “I don’t have a sexy voice…”.

My presentation went well. I guess the participants enjoyed it as they were laughing loudly to some of the contents of my presentation. My presentation had expletives such as the F word and B word. I’m not sure whether I am the first person to have such words presented in the IMLC. You can download the slides at my blawg.

After the talk, Lim Chee Wee, President of the Malaysian Bar, introduced me to Tony Fernandes, founder CEO of AirAsia. He was scheduled to speak after our session. He reached out for my hands and he asked for my name again. I got to shake his hands!

I didn’t wash it for a week hoping that my blessed hands will make the billions that Tony does with his hands.

Tony gave a very inspiring speech on how he started AirAsia. It was a story about an ordinary Indian chap with a big vision who took all steps that were seen to be impossible. He worked overseas for many years and returned to Malaysia after he couldn’t get along with his new boss. After months of hanging about, he suddenly had a vision of starting an airline. All he had was RM500,000 and a friend with another RM500,000. With that amount, he pulled all sorts of strings to get things done.

Perhaps one interesting part of the story is that he offered his lawyer some shares in AirAsia in return of the lawyer’s legal fees. Unfortunately, the lawyer rejected Tony’s proposal. The shares are worth millions today!

Token of appreciation from the Bar. I don’t know what to do with this since I now run a paperless office.

You can read a report on Tony’s speech here.

After Tony’s presentation, I was interviewed by Bernama. It was done entirely in Malay (!!!). I think it went so bad that they decided not to mentioned it in any of their news. But I got a short mention in The Star newspaper.

If you wonder how I go a spot to speak, it was fairly easy. I sit in the Intellectual Property Committee as a member. Committees in the Bar Council are usually the main source of referral for the Bar to source for speakers for their events. Everyone is free to join the committees.

Most of the Committees organise talks for members to, among others, educate members on certain topics and discuss current issues. This leaves many speaking opportunities for committee members. Since I speak and write a lot on social media laws, I naturally get chosen to speak about social media. There you go, a little tip on how to get speaking opportunities.

What lies ahead for social media

My yearly social media reflection article is out on The Star newspaper under the Putik Lada column!

This time round, it’s about new social media legal cases that happened in 2011. For the first time (probably), my Putik Lada article got onto the most read article in The Star online!

If you missed it, here’s an extract of the article:-

It is going to be a tempestuous year with more developments in the social media scene, and a digital war may erupt between Internet users, companies and governments.

MALAYSIA’S social media sphere hit a milestone last year. Facebook users reached 12 million in Malaysia as at Decem­ber and Twitter users reached about 470,000 as at October.

Defamation actions and criminal charges against people for alleged misuse of social media have also become normal. There have been interesting developments in the social media and Internet legal scene.

Last year saw an increase in the use of social media by the legal profession to market their services. Some lawyers, law firms and courts have their own Twitter accounts.

Former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (@Ambiga_S) has over 6,000 followers, international law firm Allen & Overy (@AllenOvery) has more than 6,600 followers and the US Supreme Court (@USSupremeCourt) has 23,000 followers and counting.

With such extensive use by legal practitioners, the Law Society of England and Wales issued a practice note for the use of social media by lawyers.

Back home, Cybersecurity Ma­­laysia introduced a new Internet guideline called Best Practice on Social Networking Sites (SNS).

The guideline is used as acceptable practices in usage of SNS with heightened ethics as well as in protecting the security of users and privacy needs. It is very useful for companies as guidance when drafting their social media policies.

Interestingly, the High Court of Malaya recognised that misappropriation of a domain name by a former employee is actionable under conversion of and trespass to property and breach of fiduciary duty in the 2008 case of Ogawa World Bhd & Anor v Ch’ng Wai Loong.

Normally, misappropriated Top Level domain names are recoverable through the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre.

In Canada, the Su­­preme Court of Canada in Crookes v Newton (2011) delivered an important decision on the status of….

You can read the rest of the article at By the way, my blawg is now on Twitter. Please follow FCLco for latest legal updates on intellectual property, social media, data privacy and the likes!

Handling social media disasters

I wrote the article below for the Putik Lada column in The Star. It was published on 12 May 2011. Chekkit!

Social media can be a powerful tool to promote your goods or services, but the online world is unpredictable and no matter how good a brand is, there will be someone hating it.

IT is now the norm for brand owners having social media network accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, forums and blogs to connect with their customers.

With such social media tools, brand owners can communicate with their customers directly on queries, promotions or even in friendly banter.

In the social media world, everything is fast and any delay is a missed opportunity. One does not wait for the board of director’s approval to post a reply to a message.

But with such pace, the risk of misstatement is imminent.

Such accounts could be managed in-house or outsourced to third parties which could be digital agencies, public relations firms or freelance social media managers.

It is important to find parties which have experience in dealing with Internet users.

The recent Energizer Night Race 2011 incident is a wake-up call for all brand owners. In this case, a Facebook page was created to promote the Energizer Night Race.

Unfortunately, some glitches marred the event. Immediately after, hundreds of unhappy comments started flooding the Facebook page. Some users alleged that their comments were deleted and this resulted in more unhappy comments being posted.

Soon, bloggers started covering this incident and even Energizer hate pages were created. Individuals involved in this event were also attacked and insulted.

Energizer was merely a co-sponsor, with the event actually organised by a third party.

It took Energizer and the organiser a few days to issue an apology. Unfortunately, by then, the damage had been done. Never underestimate the wrath of angry Netizens.

Brand owners or service providers are advised to deal with complaints promptly. Complaints should not be ignored or deleted. They should be treated like any other complaint. Sometimes a short statement like, “We’ll get back to you shortly” or a simple apology is sufficient for grieving consumers.

Social media is a powerful tool to promote your brand but can also be the cause of one’s downfall. Social media disaster comes in various forms – through website malfunctions, inaccessibility, becoming uncontrollable or a misstatement by the brand owner.

The legal side also has to be taken care of. Users of social media sites should abide by and agree to the terms of use and also privacy policies.

A contract should always be in place between the brand owner and the social media service provider. A social media service contract is not far different from any normal service level agreement. However, attention must be given to certain clauses.

Brand owners should dictate the format of the content posted by the service provider. Format would include the length of postings, topics to be posted and frequency of updates. Having an inactive social media page defeats the purpose of having one.

The parties must agree to have a guideline for unacceptable postings and comments. Defamatory, spam and sexually explicit contents are some examples of unacceptable postings. Topics relating to politics, religion, race, gender, nationality or sexuality should be avoided.

If there is a need to remove offending content, it should be done immediately. However, there should be some room for minor vulgarity as it is common online.

The parties must decide what postings require an immediate response and who will flag it.

As shown by the Energizer Night Race case, there must be a contingency plan to deal with social media disasters.

There must be an obligation on the service provider to report any incident threatening the integrity of a brand. A prompt response to any complaint or threat would help avoid a massive disaster.

There is also a recent trend called “Tweetjacking”, a minor prank where a friend uses your account to post embarrassing messages. However, such a prank can be damaging if posted using a company account.

This happened in the Singapore Straits Times (@stcom) case where the Twitter handle was used to post vulgarities to its 46,000 followers. Soon, other media started reporting this incident.

The lesson learned: limit access to social media applications.

Personal data is processed during the use of social media sites. Such processes may fall within the ambit of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (not in force at the time of writing) and thus the obligations under the PDPA must be fulfilled.

Brand owners should consider doing a privacy impact assessment. As for how personal data is stored (Notice Principle), brand owners may add a Privacy Policy on their Facebook page (e.g. as a Tab) or blog.

Facebook Apps also collects personal data of users, which is sometimes disseminated to other users. In the United States, a company was sued for breaching privacy laws by posting online purchases of their customers on its Facebook page.

In the event of termination of a social media services agreement, the service provider should be compelled to give immediate access to the sites and deliver up all logins and passwords. This will avoid situations where a brand owner’s website becomes inaccessible.

Lastly, brand owners and service providers should discuss whether the latter should indemnify the former in the event that the former suffers damages due to the website. Ideally, the latter should indemnify the former due to the acts of the latter.

This is important especially when, for example, an employee of the social media company posts a defamatory message about another party, which results in that party suing the brand owner.

The steps are non-exhaustive and are merely to reduce the damages and risks. The online world is unpredictable and no matter how good a brand is, strangely, there will be someone hating it.

Being a case study for a social media disaster is a disaster.

Life Online Show 16: Naughty things

I was invited as a guest to speak at the Life Online Show podcast #16 (also known LOLShow a Malaysian podcast on social media and all things on the web) specifically on the amendment to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA). If you recall, the Government recently announced that it has plans to expand the ambit of the PPPA to cover online newspaper. This means anyone running an online news portal would need to register themselves under the PPPA failing which they will run foul of the PPPA. This would also mean that the life or death of the online news portal would depend on the Government. The online news portals’ impartiality may be affected by this.

Other than PPPA, the following topics were discussed with host John Lim, David Wang from, David Lian from Text100, journalist Niki Cheong:

1) Groupon coming into Malaysia by acquiring

2) Google establishing a bigger foothold in Malaysia with an office in KLCC.

3) The Malaysian Prime Minister has sent citizens Chinese New Year greetings, but how did he get their e-mail addresses in the first place?

Pecha Kucha Kuala Lumpur – Vol. 11 – Getting Social

The event organised by British Council at Delucca was a success. The turnout was great notwithstanding that traffic was horrendous. The speakers (excluding myself) were witty, entertaining and informative. started the event with his presentation. I first met him when I gave a talk at eLawyer’s Law Forum. I remember him posting a tough, tough question to me. Now he knows how it feels to be on stage. Hehe.

Tengku Zatashah Idris, founder of

Low Ngai Yuen – Director, producer and head of the newly revived team

Fellow lawyer Jonson Chong – Human rights lawyer and former KEADILAN communications director

Rev Sivin Kit – Pastor at Bangsar Lutheran Church and social activist

I was the 9th speaker. My presentation was about the development of social media and the legal cases relating to it.

Although I had practiced my talk for nearly 2 hours, I couldn’t deliver it in the manner I practiced. In my talks lately, I would speak slowly and quite formal but the earlier speakers spoke quite fast! I decided to ditch the formal style and went Old Klang Road style. There are a few times I spoke too fast until I had spare time before my next slide. Gah.

If you’re wondering what is that green thing on my shirt, it is an ornament made from lego bricks courtesy of Laedglo. I was asked too wear it for this event. Sort of like a product endorsement! You can check out other Lego brick ornaments at their website at their Facebook page.

The last speaker was Daphne Iking – TV host and actress. She was funny!

Daphne Iking looks like she’s take a flight hehe

Me & Daphne Iking *starstruck*

Me, Ngai Yuen and Malko.S (I bet she will get tons of clicks on her link!)

Me and Malko.S

More pixs at Tian Chad’s!

Community Service Notice:

The 4th Young Lawyers Convention 2011 is coming up from Feb 19-20 2011, at Concorde Hotel KL. Do visit the Malaysian Bar website for more information.

The Year 2010 at a Glance

2010 went by like a breeze. I must say it has been a good year overall – although there had been some downs. Work was enjoyable, got promoted, parents are well, A and I hit our 3 years mark, got featured in newspapers and media and so on.

I read from somewhere that one should always look back on what has been achieved throughout the year and vow to achieve better next year. It is also good to reminisce the good and bad times in a year.

Here’s a summary of it. Click on the links for the full story 😀

In January, I got featured in Astro B.yond TVC together with other fellow bloggers.


In the same month, my 2nd article on Putik Lada was featured in The Star. I wrote about Social Media and Law

The entry was retweeted many times and got me a cool 400 page view! I’ll be writing another article on Putik Lada again in January – stay tuned!

April wasn’t a good month as I had a streak of bad luck. It started off with a RM100 parking fine. Then Mum had an accident, my car broke down in Court and got towed, tyre was punctured and petrol leaked from my car thereafter!

But the month of April was an eye opener. Jamie Toh broke “the world record” by finishing 10 sticks of raw siham cockles.


May marks the death of my brother in law. May his soul rest in peace.

On the same month, I travelled to Boston to attend the International Trade Mark Association conference. In the meantime, I stopped by New York City.

I met up with Timothy Tiah and fourfeetnine there as well.

You can read all my entries on NYC and Boston here.

June sparked my interest in Data Protection. I was featured in The Star newspaper in an article entitled Keeping it Private.

It spearheaded me in this data protection field and got invited by various organisations to talk about the impending Personal Data Protection Act 2010. I did probably around 15 talks on this topic alone. Work started trickling in after all these talks.

Data protection wasn’t the only topic I spoke about. I spoke about social media as a panelist in the Asian Blogger & Social Media Conference with other fellow bloggers fehmes Niki Cheong, Kenny Sia and KinkyBlueFairy.

Right after the conference, I was featured in The Star newspaper in the article “Tweet below the law

September is the month where civilians p4wned a robber. The security guards at my area caught a robber and got the robber’s picture published in a leaflet!

In November, I was featured in Klue magazine as one of Malaysia’s Top Ten Hottest Bloggers.

It was embarrassing -___-

Later in that month, the KL Bar IT Committee organised the IT Law Forum @ KDU College of Law and Business on 12.11.2010. Organising it wasn’t easy. We had so many twists and turns.

In the end, it went well!

December was an entry busy month for me. Although I took the entire month off to clear my leave, I had to go to the office everyday. Gah.

Anyway, I look forward to 2011. Happy New Year everyone!!! Have a great year ahead!

Social Media and Law

w00t! My article on social media and the law was published in The Star newspaper on 21 January 2010. My article was originally named “Social Media and Law” but The Star changed it to “Tweet at your own risk“.

I look like I got lipstick on -_-

The article is below – I’ve added links to some of the words.

Tweet at your own risk
Putik Lada

The explosion in Internet-based social networking – fuelled by ease of DIY publishing – is throwing up new challenges, business and legal, to the online community.

THE year 2009 marked an important year for social media networking. It brought change to politics, society and business.

Many politicians set up their own Twitter accounts to connect with the masses.

Many companies – from multinational companies to our local restaurants – set up accounts on social media networking websites to publicise their business, and even to manage consumer complaints.

Malaysian company MOL Global Pte Ltd entered into an agreement with Friendster, Inc to acquire 100% of Friendster.

Also launched was Project Alpha, Malaysia its first online TV show about Malaysian bloggers.

Social media, designed to be disseminated through social interaction, is created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques, Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, videos, ratings and bookmarking (Source: Wikipedia). Examples of social media networking websites or tools are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Friendster.

With social media websites rising in popularity, there are now more content generators on the Malaysian online community. Publishing content, once a technical and time consuming task, has been simplified; users merely need to enter text and click a button to publish.

Is Malaysian law able to cope with such changes?

The law governing online activities remains the same. Content generated through social media websites are still governed by laws on defamation, trade mark, copyright, and as well as the Computer Crimes Act 1997, Communi­cations and Multimedia Act 1998, and so on.

Internet users should be vigilant when posting updates, blog entries, tweets, comments and emails.

Even a 140-character limit tweet may get you into trouble. For example, Courtney Love, the widow of Kurt Cobain, was sued by her former clothes designer for defamation, invasion of privacy and inflicting of emotional distress for “an extensive rant” on Twitter about how she was billed for custom clothing.

Social media websites or tools have also been used to attack others. Some users think they can hide incognito behind the screen. However, some were unmasked and had to endure severe punishment.

In 2008, in the case of Applause Store Productions Limited & Anor v Grant Raphael [2008] EWHC 1781 (QB), the claimants were awarded £22,000 in damages against Raphael, an old school friend, who had created a false personal profile of the claimants on Facebook.

Back home, in July 2009, a former bank employee was charged with posting vile and indecent material in a blog with intent to annoy another colleague. He was fined RM8,000, in default two months’ jail.

Making a complaint against malicious users is now fairly easy and can even be done online – at, the website of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) complaints bureau.

In the face of severe punishments, malicious users will take all sorts of steps to keep their identity secret. They may use fake names and emails, proxy servers, and also install devices to ensure that their identity cannot be traced. However, they are not safe from the long arm of the law.

In the case of The Author of a Blog v Times Newspaper Limited [2009] EWHC 1358 (QB), a blogger sought an interim injunction in the English court to restrain Times Newspapers Ltd from publishing any information that would or might lead to his identification as the person responsible for a blog.

The blogger argued that his anonymity protected him against any action being brought against him. His application failed. The judge commented that blogging is a public activity and any right of privacy would likely be outweighed by public interest in revealing his activities.

Anything posted on the Internet will stay on the Internet. It will travel and be read by other people. Nothing is ever private on the Internet.

A clear example is the case where a former high school teacher in the US was forced to resign over photos and expletives on her Facebook page. The page had photos of her holding wine and beer and an expletive.

Although one may argue that it is one’s right of privacy to have one’s personal activities protected, the law does not prevent others from doing so.

Trade marks and trade names have also been highly abused in social media websites. Many users register their username using trade marks or trade names of other companies or individuals.

Companies have had to seek legal advice on the available courses of action in restraining such action or in obtaining such names back. This resulted in hefty legal fees and also time.

In combating such problems, Facebook gave trade mark owners the opportunity to register their rights to the username before the launch of personalised username and URLs. In doing so, Facebook had taken steps to avoid any lawsuits over trade mark.

Twitter on the other hand was not so lucky. A well-known US sports figure, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter over an account created in his name.

The false account posted updates that gave the false impression that the comments came from La Russa. The suit said the comments were “derogatory and demeaning” and damaged La Russa’s trade mark rights. The case was eventually settled.

The year 2010 will be another interesting year. Internet-enabled phones and data plans are offered at an affordable rate. Users can now access the Internet through their mobile devices whenever and wherever they are.

It will be interesting to see what are the new tools for online social networking, and the new legal challenges for the online community.

> The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, please visit

I think the article was published at the very right time – just a few days after the #yorais trend. I posted the following tweet in the morning and it was subsequently retweeted by other fellow Twitterers.

w00t my article about social media and law is published in d Star newspaper today!

It earn me an additional 400 page views!

I have another similar article on Putik Lada published last year entitled Minimising the risks in blogging. Click on the link to read it 😀