Umno can sue Tian Chua for defamation over Lahad Datu article

(The Star) – The High Court on Wednesday ruled that Umno can sue Batu MP Tian Chua and two others for defamation over an article regarding the invasion by Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu.

High Court judge Justice Rosilah Yop held that Umno has the locus standi to initiate action under Section 9(c) of the Societies Act 1966 using the name of the party’s public officer.

Umno’s lead counsel Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun had argued that Umno as a registered political party could sue for defamation  against Tian Chua for allegedly linking the party to Lahad Datu intrusion by Sulu terrorists.

He said the ruling fortified case laws that political parties could sue for defamation.

In the libel suit, Umno, through the party’s executive secretary Datuk Abdul Rauf Yusoh, said that Tian Chua had accused the party of having a conspiracy to the shooting incident implying that it is the traitor of the country.

Speaking to reporters here, Mohd Hafarizam said the judge, however, dismissed their application to strike out part of defence statement by Tian Chua and two others.

“The court held that the defendants has raise reasonable defence and want this suit to go for a full trial.

“It is not a plain and obvious case to strike out their defence,” he said.

He said the judge held that there were basis for the three to put up their defence on justification, qualified privilege and fair comment.

The court has set Jan 13 and 15 for the trial.

Umno has applied to strike out certain parts of the defence statement on grounds that those paragraphs were not relevant to determine the issues raised in the civil dispute.

Umno had named Tian Chua, whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, editor Fazillah Pit and writer Aisha Geoffrey as defendants.

Umno accused them of publishing a libelous article in the Keadilan Daily online portal on March 1, under the heading, Insiden tembakan di Lahad Datu konspirasi terancang Umno – Tian (Shooting incident at Lahad Datu a planned conspiracy of Umno – Tian).