Ramasamy ordered to pay Zakir Naik RM1.52mil for libel

The High Court finds that the former Penang deputy chief minister defamed the controversial Islamic televangelist between 2017 and 2019.

(FMT) – The High Court here has ordered former Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy to pay RM1.52 million in damages to Dr Zakir Naik for defaming the controversial Islamic televangelist between 2017 and 2019.

Justice Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz said Naik, who is a permanent resident here, had proved his case on the balance of probabilities.

In her verdict, Hayatul said Naik had discharged the burden of proof in respect of the five statements which were the subject matter of two suits before her.

She also found that Ramasamy’s defence was “without merit” and “untenable”.

“I take the evidence by Ramasamy in his defence with an abundance of caution. I am unpersuaded by his arguments.

“I find Ramasamy evidently could not prove the truth or appropriately justify the publication of his impugned statements that had defamed Zakir,” the judge said, adding that the statements he made were laced with “animosity and malice”.

She awarded Naik RM1 million in general damages, RM250,000 in exemplary damages, RM100,000 in compensatory damages, RM100,000 in aggravated damages, and a global sum of RM70,000 as costs.

The court ordered Ramasamy to pay the judgment sum within 30 days, but stayed his apology pending oral submissions by both parties scheduled for Dec 1.

Outside the court, Ramasamy said he will appeal the verdict.

In October and December 2019, Naik filed two separate suits alleging that Ramasamy had made five defamatory statements about him, which were uploaded onto several social media sites and reported by a number of news portals between 2016 and 2019.

In his statement of claim, he alleged that on April 10, 2016, Ramasamy had defamed him on Facebook by calling him “Satan”.

Naik, who is a permanent resident, also said Ramasamy defamed him in another statement published by FMT on Oct 1, 2017 by claiming that Malaysia was harbouring a “fugitive from India”.

He also claimed that in an article published by FMT on Aug 11, 2019, Ramasamy had “manipulated” comments Naik made in a speech delivered at an event organised by the Kelantan government.

On Aug 20, 2019, he said, Ramasamy again defamed him in a statement published by India Today which, he said, was laced with “hatred and spite”.

Naik’s second suit against Ramasamy was over comments the latter made with reference to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an article carried by The Malaysian Insight on Nov 8, 2019.