I’ve just read, with interest, the firestorm brewing over a food review by one Sixthseal.com. The contentious bit? That Jothy’s Fish Head Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant deemed the review to be allegedly defamatory enough to instigate legal proceedings against Sixthseal.com.Not only that, Google itself has been named in the defamation suit in an attempt to get the allegedly offending review off it’s search engine listings. Google, quite naturally, responded in the negative.
Now in my opinion, the review itself was well written and presented in a neat and factual manner based on the author’s dining experience at that time. If that consitutes grounds for defamation, every reviewer on the planet would be out of work. But, we’ll leave that for the court to work out since law isn’t my main subject. Edit: I now think the review may have been overly harsh with the choice of words used. But I still fear for Malaysians under the present law with regards to defamation where apparently, the onus is on the defendant to prove his innocence. The prosecution doesn’t seem to need to prove anything other than show that defamation has occurred.
Jothy’s Fish Head Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant itself doesn’t seem do to badly on Tripadvisor reviews (they actually average 4 stars out of 5 from a total of 6 reviews). They’ve also got a positive review in December 2010 from everydayfoodilove.com (the items consumed were different from Sixthseal’s review). I would personally take the latest Tripadvisor review with a large helping of salt because:
- The user in question only has 1 review
- The user’s review seems to written to counter the allegedly negative portions of Sixthseal’s review – it’s a little convenient that the review just happened to be about those very same things.
- The review happens on 29 Jan 2011, which is a little too close to the date the defamation suit was publicised.
The people managing Jothys Sdn Bhd would do well to read this article – Why a Negative Review Can Be a Positive Experience. Or perhaps, When to Respond to Negative Reviews (Or Not).
I wouldn’t say they’ve handled this issue very well at all. Reading the comments on Sixthseal’s blog post, there’s a significant level of abuse handed out by a user called ‘Jothy’ and several other people who seem to support this ‘Jothy’. If anything, everyone reading them can see the poor standard of class displayed by Jothy and his other supporters. It is of course, unproven that this ‘Jothy’ is directly affiliated with the restaurant – though it may seem that way from the tone and subject matter of the comments.
It is everyone’s fundamental right under Malaysian law to sue anyone for any reason.
Don’t like to be sued? Then STFU!
That’s quite poor taste (and extremely trollish behaviour). AFAIK, it’s not everyone’s fundamental right under Malaysian law to sue anyone for any reason. We aren’t a litigatious society (like America) and we don’t sue just anyone willy nilly
so I do take issue with that statement.
Sadly too, Jothys Sdn Bhd doesn’t seem to understand the social media multiplication effect they’ve just created here. I forget the technical term for it which would’ve helped to make me sound smart but in effect, a small negative experience in a small contained area, gets an exponential increase in exposure thanks to the efforts of said Jothy Sdn Bhd to shut down Sixthseal’s review.
They would have been much better served applying the same level of dedication and effort to making sure they never get another bad review again. Instead, they’ve just ensured this story will live on through the social media accounts of many Malaysians (and possibly more people from outside Malaysia). A Google search for “jothy fish head curry” brings up 15,600 results. I’m sure it was much less before all this started.
To illustrate the point about how negative press can multiply, here are several other blog posts regarding this case:
Happysurfer – http://anythingbeautiful.blogspot.com/2011/01/jothys-fish-head-curry-restaurant-sues.html
Zestful One – Jothy’s Fish Head Curry sues Blogger SixthSeal & Google for Defamation
Blog Tactic – http://www.blogtactic.com/2011/01/google-and-sixthsealcom-sued-by-jothys.html
Clever Munkey – http://clevermunkey.blogspot.com/2011/01/worst-fish-head-curry-suing-google-and.html
We shall see how this case develops….