Law firm applies to withdraw representing ex-editor in Guan Eng defamation appeal

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng had sued Utusan Melayu and one of its ex-editors for defamation.

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal will hear in July an application by a legal firm to withdraw from appearing for an ex-features’ editor of a now defunct publisher, both of whom were ordered to pay RM30,000 in damages to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng for defamation.

Lawyer Mohamad Reza Abu Hassan said the application was filed on March 17 to discharge Raja Riza & Associates from appearing for Zulkifli Jalil.

“The application to discharge will be heard on July 9 before Lim’s appeal on inadequacy of damages is heard,” Reza said after case management before deputy registrar Surita Budin.

He said the legal firm had represented Zuklifli and Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad in the suit filed by Lim in 2015.

Late last year, Utusan Melayu was placed under creditors’ voluntary liquidation and the legal firm of Dennis Nik & Wong is now handling all its legal disputes.

On Sept 27, 2018, Utusan Melayu and Zulkifli agreed to settle their libel suit with Lim after a more than three-year long legal wrangle.

The publication, through Zulkifli, tendered an apology to Lim in open court before High Court judge Rosilah Yop.

The apology was part of a consent judgment in Lim’s defamation suit against the paper and Zulkifli.

The paper was also required to publish a printed apology to Lim after counsel for both parties agreed to a settlement to bring closure to the case.

Lim’s counsel, N Mureli, was asked to provide written submission on the quantum of general damages and costs for Rosilah to decide.

Two months later, the judge awarded RM30,000 in damages plus costs of RM20,000.

Lim filed the suit after an article was published on April 10, 2015 alleging that Penang’s wakaf land had come under the purview of the chief minister’s office.

He had earlier proven to the court that such claims were baseless.

Lim is appealing for a higher amount in damages.

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