4 November 2013| last updated at 01:50PM
NST apologises to Bersih 2.0, Suaram, CIJ and Merdeka Center for groundless allegations
IRRESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM HAS A PRICE
The NST article, published on its front page on Sept 21 last year, accused Bersih and the other NGOs of plotting a conspiracy to destabilise the BN government.
In February this year, after Bersih’s plea for the retraction of the article was not entertained, the electoral reform group filed the defamation suit for an unspecified sum in February, naming the article author Farrah Naz Karim and New Straits Times Press Bhd as respondents.
Now, NST has to apologize.
It was a victory for responsible journalism in Malaysia today when mainstream daily News Straits Times (NST) had to bend to demands from four NGOs to apologise for publishing a fabricated story.
The apology was part of the conditions set by polls reform movement Bersih 2.0, human rights group Suaram, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and pollster Merdeka Centre, for dropping their defamation suit against the English daily.
NST also agreed to pay RM120,000 to the four parties, for reporting more than a year ago that the NGOs were plotting to overthrow the BN government.
NST agreed to publish apology, in bold, on Page 3 of its issue within the next 14 days, except on a Saturday. It will also have to retract its online article and publish the same apology.
High Court judge Lee Heng Cheong agreed to let the suit be withdrawn after meeting the lawyers for both parties.
Free Malaysia Today
NST, Bersih settle ‘coup plot’ article case
NST agrees to retract the article and publish a half-page apology note to Bersih and three other organisations for making baseless allegations.
KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih coalition co-chair S Ambiga said the electoral reform watchdog was vindicated after reaching an out-out-court settlement in a libel suit against English daily New Straits Times (NST).
NST in an article on Sept 21 last year, under the heading “Plot to destablise the government” accused Bersih, online news portal Malaysiakini, human rights NGO Suaram, Center for Independent Journalism and pollster Merdeka Center of receiving foreign funding to overthrow the government.
Apart from Malaysiakini, all four organisations launched separate suits against NST in the KL High Court in February, after a call from them to retract the article was ignored.
With the settlement today, NST is required to retract the article and publish a half-page apology note on page 3 and its website to the four organisations within 14 days.
The apology note should include wordings that the allegations made were groundless, the daily has no proof or whatsoever to substantiate the claims and there was insufficient verification of the information with the four organisations.
The court presided by justice Lee Heng Cheong also ordered the defendant to pay RM30,000 in costs to each organisation, totaling RM120,000.