PUTRAJAYA, Dec 4 — The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and a subsidiary have conceded to an appeal by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and three two others for the quantum of damages for defamation to be maintained at RM70,000 instead of RM2 million.
Lawyer Francis Pereira informed a three-man Court of Appeal bench today that both parties in the lawsuit, Felda and Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), had agreed to the appeal brought by his clients Dr Wan Azizah, former PKR vice-president Dr Syed Husin Ali and the writer of the articles, Rusmizam Mahat.
Following the consent order, Dr Wan Azizah, who was former PKR president, Dr Syed Husin and Rusmizam would have to pay RM70,000 in damages for defamation instead of RM2 million to Felda and FGV.
They had appealed against a High Court decision which ordered them to pay RM2 million in damages to Felda and FGV for defamation and sought the court to restore the deputy registrar’s decision in awarding RM70,000 to the companies.
Lawyer Nor Emelia Mohd Iszeham representing Felda and FGV said she did not object to the appellants’ appeal, adding that the terms of the agreement were set out in the consent order.
Justice Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat who chaired the bench accepted the consent order. Presiding with him were Justices Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Suraya Othman.
On December 5, last year, the High Court increased the amount of damages from RM70,000 to RM2 million after allowing the appeal brought by Felda and FGV.
On February 13, last year, High Court deputy registrar Norfauzani Mohd Nordin, in assessing damages, had ordered Dr Wan Azizah, Dr Syed Husin and Rusnizam to pay RM70,000 in damages to Felda and FGV.
Felda and FGV filed the defamation lawsuit on Aug 16, 2010 over two news reports published by Suara Keadilan on June 22 and June 29.
On September 30, 2014, Suara Keadilan’s former editor Dzulkarnain Taib, who was initially named as one of the defendants, tendered an apology to Felda and FGV.
On October 17, 2014, the High Court awarded judgment in favour of Felda and FGV after ruling that Felda, as a statutory body, did have the right to institute legal suits under section 15 (1) of the Land Development Act 1956.
Dr Wan Azizah, Syed Husin and Rusnizam had raised a preliminary issue of whether Felda had the right to initiate legal action and agreed to be held liable in the suit if the court decided that Felda had such a right. — Bernama