Malaysia paper ordered to pay opposition leader Lim Kit Siang S$94,500 for defamation

Malaysia's Democratic Action Party adviser Lim Kit Siang. -- PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION
Malaysia's Democratic Action Party adviser Lim Kit Siang. -- PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Democratic Action Party adviser Lim Kit Siang has won a civil suit filed against Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd over a defamatory article published on Aug 18 last year.

High Court judge Justice Yeoh Wee Siam ruled that on the balance of probability, Lim had proved his claim against the defendant.

"I find that the defendant is liable for defamation.

"The defendant is ordered to pay a global sum of RM250,000 (S$94,500) as an exemplary, general and aggravated damages," Justice Yeoh said.

She also ordered for RM25,000 to be paid in costs.

Lim's suit against the publisher is for allegedly implying he manipulated the party's central executive committee (CEC) election.

In his lawsuit, the Gelang Patah MP had claimed that Utusan had defamed him in its article, "Kit Siang manipulasi CEC? (Kit Siang manipulated CEC?)", which implied that he was untrustworthy and had achieved his political success in a dubious manner.

He said the offending words had implied that he was not fit to be a leader as he had manipulated the election for his victory and exploited the party's constitution.

In his statement of claim filed on Sept 27 last year, Lim, who is also a CEC member, said the words were false and libellous.

In its statement of defence, Utusan Melayu denied defaming Lim and claimed it had exercised reasonable care in obtaining and verifying information contained in the article published in its newspaper, Mingguan Malaysia, on Aug 18 last year.

It said the journalistic investigations, which led to the publication of the article, were prompted by various statements and articles in the mass media in respect of the conduct and results of the DAP election held on Dec 15, 2012.

The sole defendant said it was also from a booklet titled Laporan Ekuiti, said to be the work of one Father Augustus Chen, which was distributed to the public.

Utusan claimed it had common interest in the subject and was under a moral or social duty to broadcast the information to the readers.

In its statement of defence filed on Nov 22 last year, Utusan contended that it had relied on the entirety of its investigations prior to the publication of the article and refuted that Lim was entitled to any damages over the matter.