Utusan apologises to Guan Eng in court over defamatory article

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (left) shakes hand with Utusan Malaysia senior news editor Zulkifli Jalil outside the Penang High Court September 27, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (left) shakes hand with Utusan Malaysia senior news editor Zulkifli Jalil outside the Penang High Court September 27, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 27 — Utusan Malaysia apologised today to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in the High Court here over a defamatory article related to Muslim wakaf land.

The Malay-language daily’s senior news editor, Zulkifli Jalil, read out the apology to Lim in open court today.

“I apologise for writing the article titled ‘Pengundi Atas Pagar Jadi Penentu?’ that caused Lim Guan Eng discomfort, I truly regret this and I hereby withdraw the contents in the article that had tarnished Lim Guan Eng’s reputation and good name,” he read out.

Lim, a former Penang chief minister, accepted the apology in court.

The apology is part of a consent judgment before Justice Datuk Rosilah Yop in Lim’s defamation suit against Utusan and Zulkifli.

The newspaper must also publish an apology to Lim.

Rosilah fixed Oct 18 for Lim’s counsel, Datuk N. Mureli, to make a written submission on the quantum of general damages and costs, which the court will decide on Nov 23.

Lim filed the suit against Utusan and Zulkilfi as the first and second defendants over the article published on April 10, 2015 alleging that Penang’s wakaf land was under the purview and control of the state government.

The analysis piece was written by Zulkifli and was published in Utusan’s print version and on its website.

The article alleged that Lim had full powers over wakaf land and how it could be developed as opposed to the land being held by the state Islamic Council when Barisan Nasional was in power in Penang.

Outside the courtroom, Lim said the newspaper’s apology and withdrawal of the article were proof that the allegations were lies.

“All this time the management and development of wakaf land is under the Penang state Islamic religious council (MAINPP) and I have never interfered in Islamic affairs,” he said.

He said now it is proven in court that he had never interfered in Islamic affairs in the state when he was chief minister.