1. We hear a lot about litigation these days. Everyone is suing everyone else for hundreds of millions of Ringgit for alleged libel. Almost all the litigants are politicians. The courts’ time is taken up with these cases. Some go on for years as the litigants appeal to higher and higher courts.
2. We hardly ever hear any of these litigations ending with the courts awarding the sum claimed by the complainants. In most cased the complainant would lose the case and ordered to pay cost.
3. The public usually do not have a high regard for these litigants. The disparaging utterances against them would not damage their reputation at all. Maybe justice demands that the whole legal process be gone through and a judgment be made by a court and the appeals be heard. But on the other hand, in some instances in order not to waste the time of the courts, the case may be curtly dismissed, and appeals disallowed. One wonders why there is this extreme disparity in the treatment of these cases.
4. Although the defendant may feel sure that he will not be ordered to cough up the hundred millions of Ringgit or failing that be made a bankrupt, nevertheless there is still the odd possibility that he may lose the case and be bankrupted. And so for the years of trials and appeals he would be mentally stressed. Of course he would be impoverished also as he has to pay lawyers to defend him. Additionally he loses his freedom of speech with regards to the matters before the courts.
5. For all his sufferings he would if found not guilty be awarded cost (minimal and not actual). By comparison to the hundreds of millions he was sued for, the cost awarded him would be a minute amount. And he has to part with it to pay his lawyers. For the defendant, he gains nothing but will certainly lose something. Yet in the eyes of the public the libel charges were obviously frivolous and a waste of the time of the courts.
6. There is something unfair in this even though it may be regarded as just. You are threatened with being made a bankrupt if you lose but when the complainant loses, he has to pay a minute fraction of the amount he was suing for.
7. With this prospect people can sue with impunity. There is nothing to lose and much to gain. And if you are a politician you get a bonus by effectively shutting up the mouth of your opponent for years and years.