Guan Eng gets default judgment in defamation suit against RPK

The High Court will assess the damages to be paid by Raja Petra Kamarudin (right) to Lim Guan Eng at a later date.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has obtained a judgment in default against blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin for defamation over allegations of corruption in an undersea tunnel project by the state government.

Lawyer Kok Yuen Lin, who appeared for Lim, said High Court judge Rohani Ismail gave the order in chambers as the blogger did not contest the suit.

“The court will assess the quantum of damages later,” she told reporters.

On Sept 6 last year, Lim filed the suit for damages, a front page apology and an injunction to prevent Raja Petra from repeating his allegations, which were contained in a series of articles “From the MACC Files” published in February and March (2019).

Lim attempted to serve the writ and statement of claim to Raja Petra – frequently referred to by his initials RPK – by personal service at his last known address obtained from the National Registration Department and the Election Commission.

After the unsuccessful attempt, he applied to the court for substitute service where he placed a notice of the suit in three newspapers.

Raja Petra failed to respond to the notice by Feb 10 to contest the suit, leading Lim to file a judgment in default.

The articles, published at the Malaysia Today website, contained images of what Raja Petra said were documents from the MACC investigation into a RM6 billion project to build an undersea tunnel between Penang island and the mainland.

Raja Petra alleged that there had been “criminal collaboration” between the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the MACC and Pakatan Harapan leaders to cover up corruption involving the undersea tunnel project.

He had also alleged that kickbacks had been paid to Lim and other PH leaders.

Among those mentioned in the articles are former Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, former tourism and culture minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, and the chairman and managing director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

In the statement of claim, Lim sought exemplary damages on the grounds that Raja Petra “must have obtained profit from the huge volume of readership on all the articles”. and such profits might exceed the amount of damages that could be awarded to Lim.

Lim, who is also the former finance minsiter, said Raja Petra was “relentless in his campaign of purported lies and character assassination” against him.

“The 10 articles received wide publicity and broad coverage to the extent that it became the subject of discussion in the public domain, and that the statements were read by multitudes who had access to and browsed Malaysia Today,” Lim said.