The Federal Court: The Govt can sue for defamation but strikes out suit against Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen…

27 September 2018

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PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said he was planning to challenge yesterday’s Federal Court ruling that the government can sue individuals for defamation.

“I may have the legal standing as the decision affects me as citizen of this country,” he said.

Under Rule 137 of the Federal Court Rules 1995, the apex court could review its own decision to prevent injustice or abuse of process.

Zaid told FMT that he was currently consulting a few lawyers.

“If it is okay, the review will be be filed soon,” he told FMT, adding that the decision yesterday was “a huge mistake”.

“How many governments in the world today sue their citizens for defamation? Reputation is for individuals to worry about and the government only need to concern itself in getting re-elected,” he said.

Zaid said under the administration, judges too must learn to embrace new thinking.

He said allowing the government to take people to court for defamation would effectively silence dissent.

“People will be too scared to comment because of the multi-million ringgit suit that will slapped on them,” he said.

He cited the case of National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak) president Mazlan Aliman, who paid RM793,396 in damages to Felda after he was found liable for defamation.

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), a government statutory body, had also instituted bankruptcy proceedings against Mazlan.

Last July, Mazlan managed to raise RM793,396 that was paid to the Insolvency Department in Johor Bahru.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/09/27/zaid-to-challenge-apex-court-ruling-on-govts-right-to-sue/

26 September 2018

Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen was sued by the Sarawak government for defamation in 2012 after issuing a press statement which was carried by the several news portals, including Sin Chew Daily and Malaysiakini.

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http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/10/19/bandar-kuching-mp-gets-nod-to-appeal-over-defamatio…

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The bench then ordered the Sarawak government’s defamation suit to be sent back to the High Court in Kuching for trial.

Ahmad said this was because the trial judge had not considered Chong’s defence in arriving at a decision.

“As such, the Federal Court is of the view that although the majority of the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the plaintiffs have the right to sue, it erred in entering a judgement,” he said.

In April 2013, the state government and state financial authority filed the action relating to Chong’s allegation that RM11 billion had “disappeared into a black hole”, published in a Chinese national daily and a news portal, as well as in pamphlets distributed by Chong and DAP.

On April 28, 2014, the High Court held that the plaintiffs were not allowed under common law to sue Chong for defamation, even though his words against the government were defamatory.

The court also struck out the government’s suit against Chong.

In a majority ruling on April 7, 2016, the Court of Appeal set aside the High Court’s decision, ruling that the government had the right to sue for defamation under the Government Proceedings Act 1956.

It said common law which prohibited a government from commencing such action did not apply in Malaysia.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/09/26/court-rules-governments-can-sue-individuals-for-defamation/

26 September 2018

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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today ruled that federal and state governments can sue individuals for defamation, refusing to accept the common law Derbyshire principle that public authorities cannot bring action against a person for lowering their reputation.

This legal principle was however adopted by the Court of Appeal when striking out suits by former Pahang menteri besar Adnan Yaakob and former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng against the media.

Today’s decision by the apex court followed the move by a four-member bench to partially dismiss an appeal by former Kuching MP and state DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen against the Sarawak government.

Justice Ahmad Maarop, who delivered the unanimous ruling, said in Malaysia, the right of federal and state governments was provided for under Section 3 of the Government Proceedings Act 1956.

“Thus, the statutory right of the government to sue in civil proceedings under Section 3 of the act, including for defamation, is not subject to the common law of England,” he said.

Others in the panel were Hasan Lah, Azahar Mohamed and Aziah Ali. Another member, Abu Samah Nordin, retired last month.

Ahmad said according to Section 3 of the Interpretation Acts 1948/1967, the words “written law” did not include common law.

He added that the government could sue for defamation as it had a reputation.

He said the English case law was not suitable here as the right to freedom of speech under the Federal Constitution also imposed restrictions.

He said Parliament imposed restrictions for defamation and the incitement to any offence.

“In the present appeal, the right to freedom of speech is subject to the law of defamation.”

The bench then ordered the Sarawak government’s defamation suit to be sent back to the High Court in Kuching for trial.

Ahmad said this was because the trial judge had not considered Chong’s defence in arriving at a decision.

“As such, the Federal Court is of the view that although the majority of the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the plaintiffs have the right to sue, it erred in entering a judgement,” he said.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/09/26/court-rules-governments-can-sue-individuals-for-defamation/

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has allowed an appeal by former Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen against the ruling by the Court of Appeal that public authorities could sue an individual for defamation in the suit brought against him by the Sarawak government.

Justice Ahmad Ma’arop, who chaired the four-man panel, said their decision was unanimous.

He ordered the case to be remitted back to the Kuching High Court.

Chong, who is currently the Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, had filed his appeal against the April 7, 2016 decision by the Court of Appeal.

By a majority ruling, the Court of Appeal had set aside the Kuching High Court’s decision and ruled that the government had the right to sue for defamation under Section 3 of the Government Proceedings 1956, and that the common law prohibiting a government from commencing such an action did not apply to Malaysia.

It also ordered that damages payable by Chong to the government be assessed by the Registrar of the High Court, as his words had been found to be defamatory.

Met after the decision, Chong’s counsel Ranjit Singh said the case had been fixed for Oct 3 for case management.

The other judges sitting in the four-man panel were Justices Hasan Lah, Azahar Mohamed and Aziah Ali.

Justice Abu Samah Nordin, who was a member of the bench previously, retired in August.
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Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/26/govt-allowed-to-sue-for-defamation/#l8MJ4KALFfYCgVrv.99

In a landmark decision, the Federal Court ruled today that the federal and state governments can sue individuals for defamation.

A five-member bench led by Court of Appeal president Ahmad Ma’arop ruled that in Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen’s appeal in his case against the Sarawak government, the Derbyshire principle is not applicable as there are existing laws available, including the Government Proceedings Act 1956 (GPA).

The government has a reputation, the court said, which it could protect via defamation suits.

Ahmad, who wrote the unanimous judgement, partially upheld the Court of Appeal majority decision from 2016, which ruled that Section 3 of the GPA does not exclude proceedings in libel or defamation by or against the government.

Nonetheless, Ahmad ordered for Chong’s case to remitted back to the Kuching High Court, as the Court of Appeal had erred in entering its judgment.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/444712

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1 Response to The Federal Court: The Govt can sue for defamation but strikes out suit against Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen…

  1. Doris Looi says:

    Only peguam and lawyers loaded

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