Ismail Sabri sues Sabah paper over ‘turtle egg’ articles

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KUALA LUMPUR: Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has sued a newspaper publishing company and an editor over three articles on protected turtle eggs served at a dinner function in Sabah which he attended two years ago.

The High Court here today set July 11 for case management.

Ismail, as the plaintiff, filed the lawsuit through Messrs Kesavan in March, naming Sabah Publishing Sdn Bhd as the first defendant and Daily Express editor, James Sarda, as the second defendant.

The media obtained the documents through a file search today.

In his statement of claim, Ismail said the defendants had wrongfully and maliciously published three articles in the Daily Express under the headings “Minister and Sabah YB have yet to comply: Dept” dated Jan 24, 2016; “Beluran turtle eggs dinner: Findings left to the AG” on Sept 3, 2016 and “Explain ‘turtle egg’ confusion first, Lim tells Minister” on Sept 6, 2016.

Ismail, who is also the MP for Bera, Pahang, claimed the three articles meant, among others, that he was avoiding responsibility, did not respect the law, had contravened the law and had ignored the investigation process.

It is illegal to consume or to be in possession of turtle eggs in Sabah.

Ismail said the defamatory words against him were wrong, baseless, ill-intended and had tarnished his reputation as a public leader.

He demanded an apology from the defendants and is seeking general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages.

As plaintiff, the minister also asked for an injunction to prevent the defendants from continuing to publish similar articles against him in the future.

The defendants, in their statement of claim filed through Messrs Bhag Sulaiman & Co, denied publishing and printing the articles with wrongful and bad intentions.

They claimed the articles published were produced under conditional safeguards and without malice.