Thursday 28 June 2012

Guan Eng sues Perkasa, Utusan and NST for RM15mil

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has filed a RM15 million defamation suit against two mainstream newspapers and Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa) leaders over “false reports” that he had leaked national secrets to Singapore’s PAP leaders.

In his statement of claim, Lim said that New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia had reported on the allegations “without first verifying the facts and truth of the statements issued” by Perkasa’s  information officer Ruslan Kassim.

“I’m not a federal minister, how would I know national secrets? It’s a serious claim and it carries an extremely heavy penalty,” Lim told reporters at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

In the particulars of the malice intended, Lim said that the defamatory allegation was part of an “obvious agenda” to help BN recapture power in Penang, which it had lost in the 2008 general election.

He noted that that Umno, the leading component party in BN, has a “substantial shareholding” in both the dailies through Media Prima Sdn Bhd and was therefore able to “politically manipulate news items for its benefit”.

“Bearing in mind the fact that the plaintiff (Lim), as the chief minister of Penang, commands a high degree of respect due to his government’s performance during his term as chief minister, it has become imperative for the BN coalition to do all it can to tarnish the plaintiff’s good name in the hope this will entice voters to vote the plaintiff out of office in the next general election,” read the suit.

Lim added that Umno “utilises” its control over the dailies to “propagate” false news against him and Pakatan Rakyat.

The Bagan MP named NST and its group editor Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Utusan Malaysia and its group editor-in-chief Abdul Aziz Ishak as well as Ruslan and Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali as defendants.

Apology sought on front pages

Lim is claiming RM15 million in general, exemplary, aggravated and special damages as well as an apology in the manner and form approved by him published on the front pages of both NST and Utusan.

He is also seeking for an undertaking from the newspapers that they would not publish similar “defamatory” statements against him, interest, costs and further relief to be decided by the court.

The dailies’ Sunday editions - New Sunday Times, Mingguan Malaysia as well as Berita Minggu - had carried the allegedly slanderous report on Oct 2 last year which quoted Ruslan as saying that Lim and business personalities Mohamed Azman Yahya and Kalimullah Hassan had leaked national secrets during a dinner in Singapore.

The newspapers had however apologised to Kalimullah and Azman on Oct 23 last year and acknowledged that Ruslan’s claim was without any foundation or basis.

“They completely forgot about me. It is not true that I met with Singapore leaders, I have only had dinners with Singapore businessmen,” he insisted.

Lim’s lawyer Americk Sidhu, who was present today, said that the newspaper failed to do the same for Lim, as they refused to accede to the latter’s request and negotiations had broken down.

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