GEORGE TOWN: The Penang High Court has ordered the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP) to pay RM300,000 in damages to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over a defamatory article published in Berita Harian on Aug 20, 2015.
Justice Datuk Rosilah Yop also imposed interest at 5% per annum from the date of judgment until full payment of the award.
She further ordered NSTP to pay RM35,000 in costs.
In delivering her judgement, she said that the article reported was distorted, unfair and inaccurate of the judicial proceeding.
Rosilah said that the reporter was aware of the consent judgement between Lim and the former Penang Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Shaik Hussein Mydin.
She added that qualified privileged did not apply because the report about the judicial proceeding was not fair and nor accurate of.
She also said that the erratum published by the Malay daily was wholly unsatisfactory and malice could also be inferred based on the evidence.
Lim was represented by counsel K. Simon Murali while NSTP was represented by counsel Leong Wai Hong.
In his statement of claim, Lim said the article printed by NSTP-owned Berita Harian stated that he had unconditionally retracted a defamation suit he filed against former Bagan Umno chief Datuk Dr Shaik Hussein Mydin, giving the connotation that he did not have the courage to pursue the case.
He said he discontinued the suit because of Dr Shaik Hussein’s unconditional retraction of his defamatory statement.
In its defence, NSTP stated that the article was published based on an honest and reasonable belief of the truth without any malice, and that an erratum was published on Dec 18, 2015.
It was reported on Aug 20, 2015, that Lim had filed the suit after Dr Shaik Hussein told a news portal journalist on Oct 5, 2012, that Lim had illegally profited from the sale of a plot of land.
Dr Shaik Hussein unconditionally retracted his statements against Lim at the High Court on Aug 19, 2015.
He also apologised to Lim in the presence of Penang High Court Judicial Commissioner Datuk Nordin Hassan.