Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guan Eng wins suit against Utusan

GEORGE TOWN: Utusan Malaysia has been ordered by a High Court here to pay RM200,000 in damages to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for publishing a defamatory article concerning the latter.

Justice Varghese George Varughese, in allowing the defamation suit by Lim against the Malay daily, said he had examined the seven paragraphs containing the defamatory words and found that they were malicious, had intention to mislead readers and was written in bad faith.

"The article was mere rhetoric and not backed by facts.

"There was also no verification of information in the article as the writer (of the article) had said that there was a boycott of Utusan Malaysia and therefore, he could not verify the facts," he said in his decision Wednesday which took slightly more than an hour to read out.

"They (Utusan Malaysia) should have made at least one attempt to verify the facts, which would have made their article bona fide," he said.

Justice Varghese ordered the newspaper to pay Lim the amount in general and aggravated damages with an interest of 4% from date of judgment until the full and final settlement.

He also ordered Lim to be paid cost of proceedings amounting to RM25,000.

Lim, who is also Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman, filed the suit against the paper over an article published in the daily on Dec 20 last year under the heading "Kebiadaban Guan Eng."

In his statement of claim, Lim referred to seven paragraphs in the article which he said the words used, among others, were meant to portray him as a racist who objected to anything related to the Malays.

The paper's publication company, Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd, in its statement of defence, stated that the article was published in response to Lim's verbal attack against the paper during his speech at the Pakatan Rakyat convention in Kepala Batas on Dec 19 last year.

The paper said the words, if taken in their entire context, were not defamatory.