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Screenshots (Malaysia): Wither Malaysian journalism?

By Alfred Donovan
POSTED HERE IN THE INTEREST OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ON THE INTERNET

EXTRACTS FROM AN EMAIL SENT TO JOHN CHADWICK, COUNTRY CHAIRMAN, SHELL MALAYSIA 13 February 2006

Dear Mr Chadwick

I will now turn to the extraordinary case of another former long-serving employee of Shell in Malaysia – Dr John Huong, an employee of 29 years standing.

As you are also well aware EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies ganged together in June 2004 to sue Dr Huong for libel in respect of articles published under his name on my website – ShellNews.net (AKA RoyalDutchShellPlc.com). Shell obtained a High Court Injunction and a Restraining Order against him and subsequently threatened him with imprisonment.

Shell has been aware throughout the last 18 months that in fact my son and I had far greater responsibility for the drafting and publishing of the prohibited articles than Dr Huong. Most of the commentary cited in your High Court documents was originated by my son or me, not by Dr Huong. Yet you persist in suing him alone.

I have subsequently posted the offending articles and extracts thereof on a host of other websites internationally, including for example the “TellShell” section on Shell’s OWN website – shell.com and even on the BruDirect website located in The Kingdom of Brunei, a neighbouring Country of Malaysia. Dr Huong had no knowledge or involvement in any of these postings/publications.

So when will you be suing me? How can you explain Shell’s written statement in May 2005 recognising my right to use the Internet to criticise Shell, while coming down as you have on a former employee for telling the truth? Why have you taken action against a Malaysian national but not against a white European?

Here are brief extracts from each of the offending articles: –

FIRST ARTICLE: “In my experience Shell directors” and Shell managers, “believe that truth is a precious commodity to be used as a last resort. It has to be squeezed out of them. They prefer to deceive, make empty pledges (Shell’s code of ethics), intimidate,” ostracize, “hide information from their own shareholders”, employees, the government who gave them the license to operate and, and finally “retreating behind their army of lawyers” for shelter “whenever there is a prospect that management misdeeds will be exposed.”

SECOND ARTICLE: “I have been unable to obtain any redress from this hypocritical Shell management which says one thing yet does another; a bunch of lying and deceitful bunglers, as has been revealed to the whole world by the oil reserves catastrophe which has pulverized Shell’s reputation.”

THIRD ARTICLE: DEFAMATION, SLANDER AND LIBEL: Mr. Lompoh and Mr. Kandiahpillai, no matter how much you like to talk about defamation, be it slander or libel about Shell management (including the Malaysian henchmen) there’s no way for you to stop the continuous avalanche of bad news. You were the first to sour a wonderful and cordial communal relationship built up around Miri since 1910 and for the last years the inheritance built by our fore-fathers were destroyed and have come to a grinding halt; you just have to listen to the coffee shop talk. I now feel ashamed being identify with Shell.

END OF EXTRACTS
Shell’s draconian litigation has focused far more attention and public exposure on the grievances of a disgruntled employee than if it had simply allowed him to freely express his opinions on the Internet, which is a fundamental right in almost all free Countries. How can Shell’s actions be reconciled with your claimed support for the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience?

Has Shell no idea of how bad it looks that EIGHT companies have ganged up on one unemployed Malaysian and have insisted that the libel case is heard in Kuala Lumpur High Court, some 1300 kilometres from where he lives? He cannot get a job in his profession while the case hangs over his head and consequently cannot afford to keep travelling and staying in KP to attend hearings.

Of course you will soon leave all of the Shell employee litigation (I have only mentioned two cases – they are others) to take up a highly paid, fat cat appointment elsewhere, thereby leaving someone else to deal with the dreadful mess you have created.

Please feel free to respond. I will happily publish any response in full, unedited.

Yours sincerely
Alfred Donovan

PS. This communication will also be posted on Malaysian websites.
http://www.jeffooi.com/2006/02/wither_malaysian_journalism.php

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