Guan Eng’s appeal in suit against Perkasa fixed for September hearing

Lim Guan Eng is suing Ibrahim Ali and two others for labelling him a ‘Singapore agent’.

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court will hear on Sept 22 an appeal by DAP’s Lim Guan Eng, who is suing Malay rights group Perkasa and two others for labelling him a “Singapore agent”.

The former finance minister’s lawyer Americk Sidhu said the date was decided after a case management before court deputy registrar Azniza Mohd Ali.

In 2012, Lim, then the Penang chief minister, sued Perkasa, its president Ibrahim Ali, its former information chief Ruslan Kassim, as well as newspaper companies The New Straits Times Press and Utusan Melayu.

In the court today, Perkasa and Ibrahim were represented by lawyer Hussin Razak while Adnan Seman appeared for Ruslan.

Lim is relying on a Sept 26, 2018 ruling by the apex court that said a government could sue a citizen for defamation, refusing to accept the common law Derbyshire principle that public authorities cannot bring an action against a person for lowering their reputation.

The publishers abandoned their appeals last year after they agreed to reinstate the High Court decision and pay him RM200,000 each in damages.

The question of law which was consented by all parties last year was whether Lim had locus standi to maintain the lawsuit in his official capacity.

On Dec 21, 2016, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals by Perkasa and the publishers to overturn a decision by the High Court which ordered them to pay damages to Lim for defaming him.

The appellate court had ruled that Lim could not sue the media for defamation in his official capacity.

Then Court of Appeal judge Rohana Yusuf (now Court of Appeal president) had said the court was bound by its earlier decision in the case of Utusan Melayu against former Pahang menteri besar Adnan Yaakob, that a public official could not sue anyone, including the media, for defamation.

Rohana said the court had accepted the principles decided in Derbyshire.