Editors of defunct news portal apologise to ex-MB, admit libel

Jahabar and Amin Shah acknowledged in open court today that the article titled 'Going by Selangor ruler’s criteria, Khalid should quit as MB' and its Malay translation had affected Khalid's reputation. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Jahabar and Amin Shah acknowledged in open court today that the article titled 'Going by Selangor ruler’s criteria, Khalid should quit as MB' and its Malay translation had affected Khalid's reputation. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Two ex-editors of The Malaysian Insider news portal today apologised to former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim over two articles for which he sued them for defamation.

Former chief executive of the now-closed news portal, Jahabar Sadiq, and its Malay section's news editor, Amin Shah Iskandar, acknowledged in open court today that the article titled Going by Selangor ruler’s criteria, Khalid should quit as MB and its Malay translation had affected Khalid's reputation.

"We accept the facts the Article One and Article Two was slanderous, offended and hurt the reputation of Tan Sri Datuk Seri Abdul Khalid bin Ibrahim as the Selangor mentri besar, as the Bandar Tun Razak MP and as the Perlabuhan Klang assemblyman and in his personal capacity.

"Realising the above, we retract the Article One and Article Two. We also expressly and unconditionally wish to express our regret and sincerely apologise to Tan Sri Datuk Seri Abdul Khalid bin Ibrahim," Jahabar said in his apology which he read out in court today.

Article One refers to the original article while Article Two refers to the Malay translation.

Khalid later said in a statement that the apology and retraction cleared him of any wrongdoing as alleged by the defunct news portal, which he added was intended to oust him from the MB's post.

"I hope that such an incident will not befall any other leader or individual because it is clear that slandering someone merely to systematically unseat a leader is very disgusting and has no place within Malaysia's democratic system," he said.

On August 11, 2014, Khalid sued Jahabar, Amin Shah, TMI owner The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd, and site operator TMIDOTCOM Sdn Bhd for publishing the articles that alleged he had partaken in a dubious out-of-court settlement with Bank Islam.

Khalid claimed that the offending articles depicted him as having reached the settlement with the bank through an illegal, unethical, immoral and corrupt method of employing a “fixer”.

The articles also suggested Khalid was untrustworthy, dishonest, hypocritical and unethical, among others, and therefore should resign as he did not deserve to be Selangor MB and did not fulfill the criteria set out by the Sultan of Selangor.

Khalid also claimed that TMI had maliciously sought to remove him as MB through a series of nine “anti-Khalid” articles between June 9 and July 15, 2014, which were allegedly written to increase traffic and subsequently benefit it commercially.

He eventually resigned as Selangor MB following an extended campaign dubbed the “Kajang Move” that was orchestrated by his former party, PKR, to remove him.

PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali was then appointed by the Sultan of Selangor as the new mentri besar.

The Malaysian Insider was closed down by its owner earlier this year, after the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission blocked local access to the news portal.

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