Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng is demanding general damages of RM20 million in his suit against blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin over a series of articles on the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.
Lim, 61, said a total of 20 articles had been published in both English and Malay on Raja Petra’s Malaysia Today portal since February 2019.
“I am demanding RM1 million in damages for each article. The articles have been shared by internet users and they have not been removed by the defendant (Raja Petra),” he said in his testimony at the hearing to assess the quantum of damages before High Court judicial commissioner Mohd Arief Emran Arifin today.
Lim said at the time the articles were published, he was holding an important position as finance minister, and that the allegations of corruption were specifically aimed at him as the Penang chief minister.
“My good name and reputation have been severely tarnished and the defendant stated that his source was the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). This has damaged my credibility and character,” said Lim who also sought aggravated and exemplary damages of RM500,000 respectively.
Lawyer Simon Murali, representing Lim, said in his submission that Malaysia Today was a free online portal which could be accessed by anyone and that every article published could be shared by readers.
“There is no doubt that the dissemination of publications via the internet is able reach people all over the world. Moreover these defamatory statements were targeted at the then-finance minister. The articles disseminated over a one-month period were published in a series. As such, the general damages claim of RM1 million for each article is reasonable,” he said.
The court then set April 26 for the plaintiff to file additional submissions. A decision on the quantum of damages to be awarded will be delivered on May 25.
On Feb 28 last year, Lim obtained a default judgment against Raja Petra after the blogger failed to contest the suit.
Lim filed the suit on Sept 6, 2019, over a series of “From the MACC Files” articles in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, carried on Raja Petra’s online news portal, Malaysia Today, between Feb 24 and March 15, 2019.
The purportedly defamatory articles were on MACC’s investigation into the issue of alleged corruption in the infrastructure project.
Lim, the DAP secretary-general, filed an application for a judgment in default after Raja Petra failed to respond to the notice of the suit that Lim had placed in three newspapers on Feb 10, 2020.
Lim had also attempted to serve the writ and statement of claim to Raja Petra by personal service at the blogger’s last known address which was obtained from the National Registration Department and the Election Commission. However, he was unsuccessful.