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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Felda loses RM200m defamation suit

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:40 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Felda and its investment company have failed to prove that ex-deputy minister Dr Tan Kee Kwong, now with PKR, has uttered the defamatory words to a Suara Keadilan reporter.
KUALA LUMPUR: Felda and its investment company today lost their RM200 million suit against former deputy land and cooperatives minister Dr Tan Kee Kwong over a defamatory article.
High Court Judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof ruled that Felda and its investment company failed to prove Tan had uttered defamatory words and was responsible for the publication of the defamatory words in the newspaper report.
On Jan 25, Felda and its investment company, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd, filed the suit over the defamatory words published against them in a front-page article of “Suara Keadilan” headlined “Kontroversi”.
The article continued on page three under the heading “Bina bangunan RM662 juta hanya libatkan tiga individu.” (Only three people involved in putting up RM662 million building).

The plaintiffs claimed that the article had slandered them as the words implied that the acquisition and construction of Menara Felda in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur would benefit their associates.
Tan, now with PKR, in his statement of defence countered that the words constituted fair comment on matters of public interest.
In dismissing the suit, Justice Zabariah found that the words were defamatory which accused Felda and its investment company of mismanagement and attacked its financial position.
In her broad grounds, however, she held that Felda and Felda Global Ventures had not proven Tan had utterred those defamatory words to Suara Keadilan reporter, Faizal Zakaria.
She said that Faizal was also not called to testify during the trial of the suit.
“It was never an agreed fact that the defendant (Tan) utterred those words to the reporter. What was agreed was that the defendant did give an interview to Faizal,” she said.
Justice Zabariah said it was not disputed that there was publication of the articles subsequent to the interview but it was not proven that what was published in the article were the words of Tan.
Justice Zabariah pointed out that the other witnesses of the plaintiffs were not at the interview between Tan and Faizal and hence were not in a position to confirm whether the alleged defamatory words were at all uttered by Tan.
She ordered Felda and its investment company to pay RM100,000 in costs to Tan after granting Tan’s counsel Razlan Hadri Zulkifli application for the amount to be paid as the costs.
However, Felda only has to pay RM70,000 as Tan had to pay the plaintiffs RM30,000 when he lost his preliminary objection over the suit, before the suit was heard.
Tan broke to tears when the judgment was delivered.
Counsel Firoz Hussein Jamaluddin who was representing Felda and its investment company said that he would get his client’s intructions whether to appeal over the ruling.

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