Raja Petra ordered to pay RM300,000 over defamation suit

(Bernama) – The High Court today ordered Malaysia-Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin to pay RM300,000 in damages to prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for defamation.

Senior Assistant Registrar Farah Hana Hashim also ordered Raja Petra to pay five percent in interest per annum from the date of the assessment order, which was last year, until full settlement.

On Feb 10, 2011, Muhammad Shafee succeeded in getting a judgment in his suit against Raja Petra over three articles posted on his Malaysia-Today website in Aug 2008.

Muhammad Shafee made an application under Order 14A of the Rules of the High Court 1980 for the disposal of the suit based on a point of law without going for a full trial, claiming that there were defamatory words in the three articles posted on the website.

Justice Datuk John Louis O’Hara, who allowed Muhammad Shafee’s application, held that Raja Petra was liable over the articles and ruled that they were defamatory of Muhammad Shafee.   

O’Hara ordered the quantum of damages to be assessed by the court’s senior assistant registrar.

Farah Hana, in her written ruling, said the court awarded damages for a global sum of RM300,000 after considering Muhammad Shafee’s position and standing as an Advocate and Solicitor with wide experience and the various positions he held.

She said Muhammad Shafee had never in any way provoked Raja Petra to make the defamatory statements and there was also no evidence that showed any bad conduct on the part of the lawyer.

Farah Hana held that the defamatory statements were very grave and serious in nature in which they gravely defamed Muhammad Shafee and destroyed his reputation, goodwill, honour, as well as a professional lawyer.

“The defendant’s (Raja Petra) conduct in maliciously publishing the offending passages had failed to show repentance from what he did from the time of the libel to the moment of the verdict,” she said.

The court also held that Raja Petra had never made any attempt to apologise or retract the said passages, but had permitted to drag the matter to the court to the detriment of Muhammad Shafee.

Muhammad Shafee had filed the suit against Raja Petra in August 2008 for posting on Aug 6, 7 and 11 of that year the three articles, titled “Shafee Abdullah: Sodomologist Extraordinaire”, “Money, Power and Sex: What Motivates Man” and “The Real Dalang Behind The Anwar Sodomy Allegation” on the website, which he claimed had defamed him.

In a statement of defence filed on Nov 25, 2008, Raja Petra denied that the three articles were false, malicious or defamatory of the lawyer.

Counsel S.Ravindran represented Muhammad Shafee, while Jadadish Chandra acted for Raja Petra.