Reporter withdraws defamation suit against Guan Eng, ordered to pay RM40,000

Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya February 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya February 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Guang Ming Daily senior reporter Ong Beng Siang today withdrew a defamation suit filed against former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over his comments on an article by Ong two years ago.

High Court Judge Datuk Rosilah Yop allowed the suit to be dropped without the freedom for the plaintiff to file his suit again.

Rosilah also ordered Ong, 42, as the plaintiff to pay the defendant RM40,000 as cost.

The case has been scheduled for hearing starting today.

Earlier in the proceeding of the case, counsel V. Amareson representing Ong said his client agreed to withdraw the suit without the freedom to file the suit again and with cost to be determined by the court. 

However, lawyer Simon Murali representing Lim sought for RM80,000 as cost for the defendant as Lim had already prepared for the trial.

“The defendant (Lim) has already subpoenaed witnesses for the hearing.

“This is important due to the position of Lim as Finance Minister. The defendant has to defend himself because if one succeeded in his claims, it will tarnish the reputation and credibility of Lim as Finance Minister. As such the defendant has to defend himself. Besides many parties were involved in preparing the case,” he said.

However, Amareson said Ong was only a reporter with a monthly income of RM3,000 and the withdrawal of the suit would enable the defendant to concentrate on his duties as Finance Minister.

On March 17, 2017, Ong filed a suit against Lim over allegations that the defendant had defamed him via the Facebook site of the former chief minister. 

Ong alleged the Facebook posting by Lim had damaged his good name and reputation as a journalist.

According to the Facebook posting in January 2017, Lim alleged there were reporters trying to run down the state government and said such allegations should based on facts and not by publishing baseless news reports.

Ong at that time was claiming for general, exemplary, and aggravated damages from Lim. — Bernama