Selangor PAS Youth chief’s articles tarnished my reputation, Teresa Kok tells High Court

Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok (left) and her lawyer SN Nair at the Duta High Court in Kuala Lumpur April 29, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok (left) and her lawyer SN Nair at the Duta High Court in Kuala Lumpur April 29, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok Suh Sim told the High Court here today that the article with the heading “Ucapan YB Ustaz Khalil Benar: DAP Jangan Kurang Ajar”, which was published by Selangor PAS Youth chief Syarhan Humaizi Abdul Halim in his Facebook on January 19, 2019, deeply injured her feelings and tarnished her reputation.

Kok also referred to a second article titled “Teresa Kok Tidak Setuju Islam Agama Rasmi Persekutuan” which she claimed Syarhan posted in his Facebook and which was allegedly published by news portal Malaysia Today on January 12 this year.

Kok, 54, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Seputeh, said she felt defamed or libelled by the words contained in both the articles.

“The subtle and direct intent of both the impugned articles are clear and obvious in that, inter alia, they were written and published with nefarious, specious, and malicious intent,” she said in her witness statement in the trial of her suit against Syarhan before judge Datuk Mohd Firuz Jaffril.

Kok was represented by lawyer SN Nair while Wan Rohimi Wan Daud acted for Syarhan, who was named as defendant in the suit.

Kok, who gave her oral evidence at the trial, said the content of the impugned articles was not only manifestly maligning and defaming her but has further crossed the lines of common decency.

“By way of its natural and ordinary meaning and/or by implication or imputation or by innuendo, the said impugned articles have made me to be seen in the eye of public, inter-alia, that I am a chauvinistic politician who is anti-Islam and anti-Malay, that I am a racist and a racial bigot, that I am intolerant and unprincipled.

“I felt and still feel that they have exposed me to hatred, ridicule or contempt in the mind of a reasonable person. The said impugned articles have lowered me in the estimation of the right thinking members of Malaysian society including members of my family, my voters in Malaysia, the DAP, Pakatan Harapan and my friends both locally and internationally,” Kok said.

She said the defendant’s actions are and were actuated by express malice and/or implied malice and done in bad faith.

“It encouraged and instigated political and public scorn, alienation and stigmatisation of me; it was a reckless and a grossly negligent act; it could have sparked public unrest and hostilities amongst the various communities in Malaysia.

“It distorted the truth and disseminated falsehood of me and refused a chance to allow me to tell and disseminate my side of the story and it was irresponsible and played to the gallery; creating an incendiary or a volatile situation at that period of time; was purely to achieve cheap sensationalism and to boost the readership of his Facebook page,” she said.

Kok said it could not be denied that the subject matter of the allegations made against her is very serious and life threatening because the consequences are very serious in nature in that it affected the integrity and reputation of her position as a Cabinet Minister of Malaysia.

“Also, my integrity and reputation as a senior political official in the DAP was seriously compromised as there are many Muslim members in the DAP and also among my supporters or voters in my constituency and in general,” she said.

In her suit filed last February 4, Kok referred to an article Syarhan wrote and posted in Facebook on January 19, 2019 under the heading, “Ucapan YB Ustaz Khalil Benar: DAP Jangan Kurang Ajar”.

Kok also referred to a second article with the heading, “Teresa Kok Tidak Setuju Islam Agama Rasmi Persekutuan” that she claimed the defendant had posted and which was allegedly published by news portal Malaysia Today last January 12.

The plaintiff claimed both articles implied among others that she was anti-Islam, racist, had abused her power as a Cabinet minister as well as a person who is unethical and untrustworthy.

She contended that the articles were libellous and written with the intent of harming her reputation.

Kok is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages as well as an injunction to prevent the defendant or his agent from republishing the articles.

The plaintiff is also seeking interest, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Meanwhile, Syarhan in his statement of defence filed last March 29 claimed he posted the first article based on facts as an appropriate political response to DAP and was not aimed at disparaging the plaintiff.

The defendant claimed that he did not publish the second article but merely referred to it in his Facebook posting via the first article.

The hearing continues tomorrow. — Bernama

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