PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has deferred its decision on the appeal by former Baling MP Abdul Azeez Rahim over his defamation suit against DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng.
Justice Azizah Nawawi, who chaired the three-member panel, said the court needed time to discuss the matter and will announce its decision on the appeal after a new date is fixed. The court then fixed May 24 for case management to set the decision date.
Justices Azizah, Mariana Yahya and Azimah Omar today heard submissions from Azeez’s lawyer Porres Royan and Lim’s counsel N Mureli.
Azeez is appealing against the Penang High Court’s decision on Dec 11, 2020, which dismissed his defamation suit against the former Penang chief minister in connection with the Penang undersea tunnel project.
Azeez filed the suit in March 2018 claiming that Lim had issued defamatory statements during a press conference at the Penang chief minister’s office on Feb 28, 2018, and during a Chinese New Year open house hosted by the Penang Development Corporation on the same day, linking Azeez to a payment of RM3 million as consultation fees from the developer of the undersea tunnel project.
He is seeking, among others, general and exemplary damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.
In the appeal today, Porres argued that High Court Justice Rosilah Yop’s reasoning in accepting Lim’s defence of plea of justification was flawed and plainly wrong.
He said the judge failed to appreciate that Lim had not adduced any proof whatsoever of the truth of the imputation that Azeez had received money from Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd in connection with the project.
He added that Rosilah had found the statement made against Azeez was defamatory but she accepted Lim’s defence of plea of justification and dismissed the former’s suit after finding among others that Lim had posed questions to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as to why Azeez was not arrested.
Mureli, however, countered saying the statement made by his client was not against Azeez but was targeting other parties and MACC over the authority’s action to charge one person and not charge another person.
He said the defence of plea of justification applied to Lim, as he was the then Penang chief minister who had the duty to raise and clarify issues which were relevant and of public interest.