GEORGE TOWN,. The High Court here today ordered New Straits Times (NST) to pay Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng RM200,000 in damages after the national newspaper admitted to publishing an article that was defamatory to him last year.
In the consent judgment, Justice Rosilah Yop also ordered NST to publish an apology in its weekend edition, New Sunday Times, within 14 days from today.
“The defendant is ordered to publish the apology on page three of its newspaper along with a picture of the plaintiff which will be supplied by plaintiff,” she ruled after the newspaper and Lim agreed to resolve the matter with an apology and damage payment.
In a consent judgment, NST agreed that the article dated February 5, 2017 and titled “Political intervention was real, says PAS” with an editorial notation “Guan Eng had hand in non-renewal of Mufti’s contract” under the headline was defamatory to Lim, who was at that time Penang chief minister.
Lim’s lawyer Simon Murali read out the terms of the consent judgement in court. He also mentioned the case for the lawyers representing NST.
Simon said that NST is required to publish an unconditional and unreserved apology that admits the statement published were defamatory to Lim.
In his defamation suit against NST, Lim claimed that the article in question had alleged that there was political intervention by the state government in the appointment of the state Mufti.
The article also implied that Lim had interfered in matters under the administration of Islam and used his power to influence the appointment of the state Mufti.
He claimed that the article gave rise to connotations that he had used his power and authority to purge officials whom he dislike or whom he had a difference from the administration of the state government.
In his statement of claim, Lim denied interfering with matters under the religious authorities in the state including the appointment of the state Mufti.
He claimed the article could generate hate and contempt among Muslims against him.