Guan Eng defamation suit: Umno Youth man Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris denies being ‘Papagomo’

File photo of Umno Youth executive council member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris. Wan Muhammad Azri has denied he was the blogger known as ‘Papagomo’.  — File picture by Choo Choy May
File photo of Umno Youth executive council member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris. Wan Muhammad Azri has denied he was the blogger known as ‘Papagomo’. — File picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Umno Youth executive council member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris has denied he was the blogger known as Papagomo, according to a filing at the High Court.

Wan Muhammad Azri made this denial in a defence statement against a defamation suit filed by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and the latter’s son, Clint Lim Way Chau, for spreading false news against the father-son duo last year.

Lim and his son both filed a lawsuit against Wan Muhammad Azri at the Penang High Court last October 15, after the latter began spreading false accusations that Way Chau had been detained while trying to smuggle RM2 million in cash into Singapore without declaring them.

The incident stemmed from a Chinese vernacular newspaper’s report in March 2020. The newspaper subsequently published a retraction and apology.

In court documents sighted by Malay Mail, Wan Muhammad said he disagreed with the plaintiff’s statement of claim as referred to in Paragraph 3.1 that he was known as “Papagomo”.

“Paragraph 3.1 and Paragraph 3.2 of the statement of claim is agreed upon except that the defendant is known as Papagomo and places a strong burden of proof on the statement,” it reads.

Paragraph 3.1 is stated as follows: “At all material times, the defendant, who is also known as Papagomo, is a member of a non-corporate organisation of a political nature known as the United Malays National Organisation or in short ‘Umno’.” 

Paragraph 3.2 is stated as follows: The defendant holds the position of an executive council (exco) member in one of Umno’s party components, Umno Youth.

Wan Muhammad also refused to admit this and vehemently denied he was well-known in social media where his following on Facebook were in the thousands.

“Throughout the material time, the defendant adds the burden of proof lay with the plaintiffs to show that the defendant was the owner of a Facebook account by the name of ‘Papa Azri’ as stated and that it was the defendant who had uttered accusatory statements as mentioned by the plaintiffs through that Facebook account.

“The defendant also states that the accusatory statements mentioned by the plaintiffs in Paragraph 4 and 4.1 does not refer to the plaintiffs and is not a form of accusation hurled towards the plaintiffs perpetrated by the defendant as claimed,” the statement of defence reads.

All in all, Wan Muhammad Azri denied his involvement in the alleged accusation against the plaintiffs named going as far as to state that he has never uploaded or published any accusatory statements aimed at the latter on Facebook as claimed.

He also raised the issue of substantive defence — justification and fair comment — against the suit if the accusatory statements in question are indeed proven to be aimed at the plaintiff.

In his justification, Wan Muhammad Azri said he had then obtained access to several online news articles including the aforementioned Chinese vernacular newspaper’s article (that was translated) which had reported on the same issue such as those from The Coverage, Sinar Harian and Malaysia Today.

However, Wan Muhammad Azri said all of the online news articles mentioned are nowhere to be found and now not accessible to the public.

“The defendant states that he has the responsibility as a citizen to voice any issues concerning the abuse of power and voice the people’s concern for the sake of public interest.

“It was made in good faith for matters of public interest based on facts and matters which captured the public's attention,” he said.

However, this is not the first time Wan Muhammad Azri has denied he was the infamous blogger as two previous High Court rulings showed otherwise.

The High Court previously ruled Wan Muhammad Azri as pro-Umno blogger Papagomo in 2014, after he was accused of producing explicit images and derogatory statements about Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being intimate with another man in a blog he ran.

It ruled in favour of Anwar and ordered Wan Muhammad Azri to pay the former RM800,000 in damages and RM50,000 in cost for linking the Opposition Leader to a man in a sex video several months prior.

Despite his denial, Wan Muhammad Azri was also previously ordered by the High Court in 2013 to pay a businessman RM500,000 in damages over a defamation suit.

On September 13, 2013 Wan Muhammad was identified by then Judicial Commissioner Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera as Papagomo and ordered to pay RM200,000 in general damages and RM300,000 in exemplary damages to businessman Abdul Razak Mohd Noor in the latter’s defamation suit against the blogger.

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