Guan Eng sues Raja Petra over articles on RM6.3b Penang tunnel project

(Mkini) – Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has filed a defamation suit against controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin in relation to 10 online articles over the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.

The former Penang chief minister filed the writ of summons, through law firm Messrs Simon Murali & Co, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on Sept 6.

According to a copy of the statement of claim made available to Malaysiakini today, Lim is suing Raja Petra over a series of “From the MACC Files” articles carried on the online news portal Malaysia Today, in both English and Bahasa Malaysia versions, between Feb 24 to March 15.

The purported defamatory articles are in regard to the MACC investigation into the issue of alleged corruption in the ambitious infrastructure project.

The statement of claim stated that among the names of personalities that the articles made reference to are Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, former tourism and culture minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, and Consortium Zenith Constructions Sdn Bhd’s chairperson and managing director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

Through the statement of claim, Lim claimed that the articles contained defamatory allegations such as that he had indulged in corrupt practices while serving as Penang chief minister, that he was corrupt and a schemer and manipulator, bereft of good character, undignified and unscrupulous, and purportedly having desecrated the sanctity of the public office to serve personal interest.

“The plaintiff pleads that the impugned statements have disparaged him in his public office, calling and profession, and furthermore, have gravely injured his character, reputation and good name.

“The impugned statements in the said articles have deeply lowered the plaintiff in the estimation of the right-thinking members of society.

“Consequently, the plaintiff has been exposed to humiliation, ridicule, odium, contempt, and public scandal.

“The plaintiff pleads that he had suffered loss and damages in consequence of the defendant’s wrongful and unjustified act of defamation,” he claimed.

The Bagan MP is seeking a prohibitory injunction against the defendant to prevent and restrain the latter from issuing and publishing defamatory statements against the former, pursuant to Sections 50, 51 (2) and 52 of the Specific Relief Act 1950.

The plaintiff is also seeking a mandatory injunction, under Section 53 of the same act, to compel Raja Petra to among others ensure an unconditional apology be published on the front pages of English dailies The Star and the New Straits Times, Bahasa Malaysia daily Berita Harian, and Mandarin vernacular newspaper Sin Chew Daily, within seven days from the date of judgment.

Seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages

Lim is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages, interests on the amount of damages awarded at a rate specified by the court, cost, and any other relief and order deemed appropriate, proper and just by the court.

In the statement of claim, the plaintiff said aggravated damages are sought because, among others, the defendant was relentless in his campaign of purported lies and character assassination against the plaintiff and that the defendant utilised online media which he had full control and authority to pursue this campaign.

Lim added that aggravated damages are further sought because the alleged defamatory statements in the 10 online articles received wide publicity and broad coverage to the extent that it became the subject of discussion in the public domain, and that the statements were read by multitudes who had access to and browsed Malaysia Today.

The plaintiff is seeking exemplary damages due to Raja Petra purportedly having controlled and operated Malaysia Today, from which the impugned statements were published at large owing to the easy access to the internet.

“The defendant must have obtained profit from the huge volume of readership on all the aforementioned articles, and the defendant is calculated to have made a profit which can and/or might exceed the damages payable to the plaintiff,” Lim said on reasons for seeking exemplary damages in the suit.

According to checks at online cause list, the suit is set for case management at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Nov 7.

On March 3, Lim reportedly pointed out that the Penang undersea tunnel project was awarded to contractor Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd via an open tender, stressing there was no corruption involved.

“How can there be corruption when it was awarded via open tender? The case has been investigated (by the MACC) and no action (was) taken.

“All this was done under the previous government,” he said in response to Raja Petra purported exposé of MACC investigation papers on the tunnel project.

The blogger had claimed the documents implicated several DAP leaders, including Lim, as receiving kickbacks from Consortium Zenith.