KUALA LUMPUR: A defamation suit brought by Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd against Penang Gerakan acting youth chief, Jason Loo Jieh Sheng, will be heard before a High Court judge in Penang.
Loo’s lawyer Ong Siang Liang said judicial commissioner Rohani Ismail allowed the application by his client today after parties made submissions in her chambers.
“The forum of convenience is Penang as my client and witnesses are residing in the state,” lawyer Ong Siang Liang told reporters.
Counsel Chai Ko Thing and Andy Yoong also represented Loo while Tengku Haris Syazwani Tengku Roslan appeared for Consortium Zenith BUCG.
Ong said trial dates would be fixed later, before a judge in Penang.
The construction company last August filed the suit against Loo, here, over his statement to the media on June 23, 2016.
Loo is alleged to have made defamatory statements, claiming that the feasibility study and detailed design for the undersea tunnel and three highways cost only RM90 million and not RM305 million as claimed by the Penang government.
The company claimed Loo’s statement, which appeared in news portal Malaysiakini, had tarnished its name, integrity and reputation and that the statement questioned the credibility of its work.
In the statement of claim, the company said Loo’s statement in its natural and ordinary context meant that it had no principles, could not be trusted, was involved in bribery and had no integrity.
The company was awarded a contract (preliminary agreement) by the Penang government on Oct 6, 2013, to conduct a feasibility study and carry out a detailed design for the undersea tunnel project.
The project includes the Penang-Butterworth tunnel, measuring 6.5km, paired-road measuring 12km from Tanjung Bunga to Teluk Bahang, a bypass measuring 4.6km between Ayer Itam and Dr Lim Chong Eu highway and another highway, measuring 4.2km, between Gurney Drive and Dr Lim Chong Eu highway.
Once completed, the tunnel is expected to become the first undersea tunnel in Malaysia and the second such tunnel in South East Asia.
Loo, in his defence, stated that he had the right to make “fair comment” on a public interest matter.
He also filed a counter-claim, stating that the company had filed the action without realising that he had never mentioned the company’s name at any material time.
Loo stated that he had only referred to representatives or Penang state government officers.