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Journalist Tashny Sukumaran said she felt relieved after the criminal defamation charge against her was withdrawn. ( Image from Pixabay)

KUALA LUMPUR: Journalist Tashny Sukumaran said she felt relieved after the criminal defamation charge against her was withdrawn.

She was scheduled to appear at the magistrate's court here today to answer the charge over her Twitter thread alleging inappropriate physical contact during a medical examination by a dermatologist last year.

The charge was however dropped by the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) at the eleventh hour.

However, AG Tan Sri Tommy Thomas did not specifically state why the charge was withdrawn.

In her response to Thomas’ decision, Tashny said she felt vindicated but it had nevertheless created a chilling effect on other women placed in similar situations.

She said it was unfortunate that complaints on sexual harassment were often dismissed or perceived as defamatory.

"I feel vindicated that the AGC has seen sense and opted not to use this archaic and frankly ridiculous section of the Penal Code against me.

"While I am relieved that I will not be charged in court, this episode has nevertheless created a chilling effect on similarly placed women who have spoken out or are thinking of speaking out against sexual harassment," she said.

She also urged the government to look into the fault-lines of the country’s criminal justice system and create a safe space for women to speak out on issues impacting them.

According to her Tweets, the charge emerged from the dermatologist’s police report against her, accusing her of criminal defamation.

She said that her police report was marked as ‘No further Action” due to insufficient evidence.

In August last year, Tashny, who is Malaysian correspondent for the South China Morning Post, claimed that dermatologist Dr Ruban Nathan had inappropriately touched her when she went to his clinic for consultation about dry skin on her shins.

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