PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will appeal against the dismissal of his defamation suit against two Umno-linked media groups and three others on a preliminary objection.
Lawyer Americk Sidhu said a leave to appeal applicaton would be filed next week in the hope the Federal Court would hear his client’s appeal together with a similar case filed by Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob.
“There are good grounds to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling,” he said.
The Federal Court has fixed Feb 13 to hear Adnan’s appeal, after he obtained leave from the court.
On Dec 20, a three-man Court of Appeal bench, hearing Lim’s case and chaired by Rohana Yusuf, said the court was bound by an earlier ruling that a public official could not sue anyone, including the media, for defamation.
In March, the Court of Appeal led by the same panel struck out Adnan’s suit against Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad as he had filed the case in his official capacity.
The court had accepted that the legal principle established in the Derbyshire County vs Times Newspapers Ltd case could also be applied here.
In that case, decided in 1993, the court had ruled that local authorities could not institute legal action based on public criticism.
In Lim’s case, Rohana said if not for the ruling in Adnan’s matter, the court found publishers New Straits Times Press (NSTP), Utusan Melayu, Perkasa, its president Ibrahim Ali and Negeri Sembilan branch chief Ruslan Kassim liable for labelling him as a “Singapore spy”.
However, she said, the bench would have reduced the RM550,000 damages awarded by the High Court to RM150,000.
Ruslan had claimed Lim had leaked Malaysia’s secrets during his trip to Singapore with InvestPenang in 2011.
In May 2012, Lim filed the defamatory suit against Ruslan, Ibrahim, Perkasa, NSTP, its then group editor Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Utusan and Utusan group editor Abdul Aziz Ishak.
The New Straits Times and Berita Harian under NSTP’s stable, and Utusan Malaysia (under Utusan Melayu) had published Roslan’s comment.