Appeals Court upholds decision on Rais’ suit against blogger

(The Star) – The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s decision to award Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim RM300,000 in his defamation suit against blogger Amizudin Ahmat for implying that the minister was guilty of raping his Indonesian maid.

In doing so, the three-member panel – comprising Justices Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha, Mohamed Apandi Ali and Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin – unanimously dismissed Amizudin’s appeal against the High Court’s decision.

In his broad grounds of judgment Wednesday, Justice Tan ruled that the award of RM300,000 was not high, after taking into consideration Dr Rais’ “high social standing”.

“On reflection, the respondent is a person of high social standing, while the allegation was most low and foul.

“Given the opposites between the respondent’s standing and the allegation, we agree with the High Court judge that RM300,000 (award) is not on the high side,” he ruled.

He also ruled that the defence of justification used by Amizudin, who is also known as Din Binjai, could not be used as his defence “did not amount to truth of rape”.

“The allegation is real, but all that was shown is the investigation of rape,” he ruled.

Justice Tan added that Amizudin’s defence that his article was a re-publication of an article in HarakahDaily still amounted to defamation if it was not truthful.

“Re-publication is no defence without the truth. The only defence is the truth,” he ruled.

However, the court held that the cost of RM100,000 awarded to Dr Rais by the High Court was high, and reduced it to RM50,000 for both in the apellate court and the High Court.

On July 5 last year, the High Court ruled in favour of Dr Rais, and awarded him the RM300,000 in compensatory, aggravated and exemplary damages.

Dr Rais filed a suit against Amizudin last Jan 31, saying that the blogger had published or caused to be published a defamatory article under the heading “Hei Pak Menteri … mana mau lari …” (Hey Mr Minister … where do you want to run to) in his blog on Dec 28, 2010.

In his suit, Dr Rais claimed that the words meant that he was guilty of raping his Indonesian maid and capable of murdering her to conceal evidence over the alleged rape.