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Utusan ordered to pay RM120K to PAS leader! - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Seven years after filing a suit, PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar won his civil suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today against Utusan Malaysia with the court awarding him RM120,000 in general damages.

mahfuz omarIn his judgment, Judicial Commissioner Mohd Yazid Mustafa found the article to be defamatory, adding that it was not the truth as Mahfuz had denied making such comment.

"The court finds the article defamatory as it would lower the plaintiff's reputation as a politician," he said.

"The court could not accept the defence of justification could not be applied in this case."

The politician, 52, filed the suit on Dec 10, 2001, over an article published in the newspaper on March 3, 2001 titled `Demonstrasi - Mahfuz istihar bersama Keadilan' (Demostration - Mahfuz declares to be with Keadilan).

The PAS information chief named the publisher Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd and its former group editor Khalid Mohamad as defendants.

Mahfuz, who was the PAS Youth chief at the time of the news report, said in his statement of claim that the article meant he supported the then Parti Keadilan Nasional (now PKR) to topple the government by using force.

Utusan to study the judgment

He added that the article alluded that he was a leader who advocated the use of force and violence, and that he did not believe in the democratic process of using electoral process.

The article also reflected him to be a person who believes in overthrowing the government by the use of force and he was a person who was willing to jeopardise the security of the country.

He said the said article also allegedly meant he was against PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who did not agree in the advocating violence or force to topple the government.

In Utusan's defence, they argued it was justifiable to publish the article as they had contacted Mahfuz by phone for his comments. The daily also claimed the article was the truth in its fact and contents.

Utusan's counsel M Reza Hassan said they would study the grounds of judgment and possibly file the appeal.

Mahfuz who was represented by counsel Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said he was satisfied with the court's decision as what was important was his and PAS reputation.

"We truly support democratic means in politics and do not subscribe to such illegal means including street demonstrations to overthrow the government," he said.

Not the first for Umno-owned Utusan

This is not the first time that Umno-owned Utusan has been forced to pay hefty damages for defamation.

Last year, migrant-labour activist Irene Fernandez won her defamation suit against the Malay-language daily and was awarded RM200,000 in damages.

The decision came 11 years after she filed the suit against Utusan over an article published on Sept 20, 1995.

The article claimed that Fernandez had failed to cooperate with the police in their investigation into allegations in a memorandum.

At a press conference in August 1995, Fernandez had revealed allegations of alleged torture and deaths in Malaysian detention camps for illegal immigrants. This has led to a police investigation against her for spreading "false news".

In the suit, Fernandez had argued that the article was written with malice and that its meaning was that she was deliberately evading the police, was insincere and lacked integrity.

The article has also portrayed her as a disloyal citizen and cited her for treason for tarnishing the country’s image by bringing up these issues.

Meanwhile, Utusan is facing a slew of other lawsuits including two from Selangor senior exco and Seputeh parliamentarian Teresa Kok -


Mr. Right said...

Rakyat 1 - O Utusan.

Now they will be more careful to shoot the guns towards opposition.

Kudos to Mahfuz and his lawyers.

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