Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will have to wait and see whether he is entitled to higher damages from three Umno-related publications for claiming he had leaked national secrets to Singapore’s ruling PAP party.
His lawyer, Americk Sidhu, said the Federal Court must first decide whether public officials and the government could sue the media for defamation.
He said the apex court would hear on Sept 20 a leave application by Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob on a ruling in March that his client could not sue Utusan Melayu for defamation in his capacity as a public official.
Americk is appearing for Adnan in that matter.
If leave is allowed, the apex court will hear the merit of Adnan’s appeal later.
“The chances of obtaining leave to resolve this issue at the highest court is bright due to two conflicting decisions by the Court of Appeal,” Americk told FMT.
In the other case, New Straits Times Press (NSTP), Utusan Melayu and Perkasa are appealing against the award of RM550,000 in damages to Lim.
The Court of Appeal has adjourned this appeal pending the decision of the apex court.
Lim, who is DAP secretary-general, has also cross appealed for a higher quantum on grounds the damages made by the High Court last year were inadequate.
Americk said his client was asking for higher damages as the NST, Berita Minggu and Mingguan Malaysia had refused to apologise to him.
Instead, an expression of regret was only offered to businesman Kalimullah Hassan and Malaysia Airlines Board Member Mohamad Azman Yahya, for alleging that they had leaked state secrets at a dinner with PAP in 2011
It was reported that the articles, published by the three dailies on Oct 2, 2011, were based on a statement by former Perkasa Information Chief Ruslan Kassim, uploaded on the website “pribumiperkasa.com”.
Judge Nor Bee Ariffin ordered Perkasa to pay RM150,000, while NSTP, which owns both the New Straits Times and Berita Harian, and Utusan were ordered to pay RM200,000 each in damages.