Fake or Fact?

Defamation law is a legal framework that protects individuals and entities from false statements that harm their reputations. It’s designed to strike a balance between freedom of speech and the right to protect one’s reputation from unjust attacks. Individuals and entities need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and be more cautious when making statements about others. In Malaysia, defamation law is governed under the Defamation Act 1957, Malaysian case law, and English common law.

Introduction to Defamation Law

Defamation refers to the act of making false statements about someone that harms their reputation. These statements can be either spoken (slander) or written (libel).

To prove defamation, the following elements generally need to be established:

1. The statement is defamatory;

2. The defamatory statement refers / concerns to the Plaintiff; and

3. The statement was published or communicated to a third party.

Types of Defamation

1. Slander – Words, remarks and/or statements spoken during a conversation or broadcasted through media.

2. Libel – Statements, words, and/or remarks written or published in social media, newspapers, magazines, online articles and so on.

Defenses – What is not defamatory?

1. Truth / Justification – Truth is an absolute defense against defamation. If the statement is true or is substantially true, it cannot be considered defamatory.

2. Fair Comment – Statements of comments based on facts proven to be true and not statements of fact, fair and concerns a matter of public interest, are not defamatory. However, this defense will fail if it is proven that the words/statements were published with malice (bad intention).

3. Absolute Privilege – Statements made in certain contexts, such as during legislative proceedings or in court or statements given to the police or police report, may be protected by privilege.

4. Qualified Privilege – The defamatory words/statements are published by someone who has an interest or a duty, legal, social, or moral to publish the words to the persons to whom they are published and the persons to whom the words/statements are published had a corresponding interest or duty to receive them. However, this defense will fail if it is proven that the words/statements were published with malice (bad intention).

5. Consent – If the person allegedly defamed consented to the publication of the statement, it may not be considered defamatory.


If defamation is proven, the harmed party may be entitled to damages, including monetary compensation for any actual financial losses suffered as a result of the defamation.

It would be advisable to consult a professional lawyer. Please contact us for further enquiry.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article do not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. It is provided for general information purposes only.