GEORGE TOWN, June 21 — The High Court today dismissed a defamation suit filed by DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng against MCA vice-president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng and The Star Media Group.
Justice Quay Chew Soon ordered Lim to pay RM20,000 in costs to Tan, who is also Penang MCA chief, and RM30,000 to The Star Media Group (SMG).
“I find that Lim has not succeeded in proving his case against the defendants on a balance of probabilities,” the judge said when delivering his decision in court.
Quay ruled that the statement issued by Tan did not defame Lim and therefore the statement published in The Star in March last year was not defamatory.
Lim had filed a defamation suit naming Tan as the first defendant and SMG as the second defendant over a statement published in the English-language newspaper titled “Guan Eng's bullying of TAR UC a contributory factor to Pakatan's demise”.
Lim, a trained accountant, had demanded general damages, including aggravated damages and exemplary damages.
Quay dismissed Lim's claim after a full trial because he found that there were no allegations in the statement that said the DAP politician had imposed a change of name for a Chinese primary school after allocating RM4 million to the school when he was the finance minister.
“What the impugned statement does is to allege that Lim had not denied that there was such a condition imposed,” the judge said.
He said the statement, when read as a whole, is merely a call for Lim to explain the allegations which had arisen in the course of the Johor state election and which the latter had not denied.
Quay said the final sentence in the statement takes away any sting in it as he had asked for explanation from Lim over the alleged condition for the allocation was for the school to change its name.
“I am also of the opinion that the comments made by Tan are one which a fair-minded person can honestly make,” he said.
He said Tan was seeking clarification from Lim rather than demeaning his reputation.
He also said that The Star had published the statement in a fair, disinterested and neutral manner.
He said the statement was published in the letters to the editor section which meant that it was open for Lim to send a letter in reply to the same section.
“I think it would be impossible for any news organisation to run the letter to the editor section if they are expected to verify the truth of every material they receive and intend to publish in that section,” he said.
He also said The Star was not malicious in publishing the article.
Lim was represented by Simon Murali and Kok Yuen Lin while SMG was represented by Abdullah Abdul Rahman.
Tan was represented by Ng, Tan Paik Hong, Sit Jie Hao, Tham Joe Ping, and Koay Li Xian.
Simon told reporters later that Lim will be appealing the High Court ruling.