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Utusan Ordered To Pay RM250,000 In Damages To Lim Kit Siang

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malay daily Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad was ordered to pay RM250,000 in damages to DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang over defamation linked to the party’s 2012 central executive committee (CEC) election.

High Court judge Datuk Yeoh Wee Siam issued the ruling today after finding the newspaper publisher liable on a balance of probability for defamation over its article “Kit Siang manipulasi pemilihan CEC?” (Did Kit Siang manipulate CEC election?).

She ordered Utusan to pay the RM250,000 “global sum” which covered general, aggravated and exemplary damages.

Yeoh ordered the defendant to pay 5 percent interest on the total compensation awarded from the date of filing the suit until full payment of the damages.

She also ordered Utusan to pay RM25,000 in cost.

When met after proceedings, Utusan’s counsel Mohd Izral Khairy said he will seek further instruction from his client on whether to appeal.

Plaintiff Lim was seen conferring with his lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo after the court verdict.

On September 27 last year, Lim filed the suit against Utusan over the article which implied he was untrustworthy and had manipulated CEC election to ensure his victory and political success.

The Gelang Patah Member of Parliament(MP) claimed the article had damaged his reputation and lowered his social status.

He alleged the daily did not verify the information nor did it apologise to him despite he having issued to it a notice of demand.

Utusan filed its statement of defence on Nov 22 last year, claiming the article was published on an occasion of qualified privilege.

It claimed the article was published after various media statements and articles were published by other media outlets concerning the CEC elections held on Dec 15, 2012.

Utusan also alleged that the article was prompted by the public distribution of a booklet titled “Equity Report” said to be arranged by one Father Augustus Chen.

Utusan claimed the article was published after it exercised reasonable care in obtaining and verifying all information.

Lim had called three witnesses, which included himself, to testify in the course of a four-day trial which began on Aug 21 this year and ended on Oct 3.

Utusan called its reporter Kasthuri K. Manimaran to give evidence as its sole witness during hearing.-NST

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