The Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday dismissed a RM10 million suit filed by former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali against DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang for allegedly defaming him in an article on the 1MDB scandal.
Judge Azimah Omar ruled that Lim had succeeded in justifying his qualified privileges when making the statements as the 1MDB scandal involved criminality, illegalities, social and economic repercussions to the nation’s economy as well as the morality of the nation’s top leaders and agencies.
“It is well within the rakyat’s rights. Not just the defendant (Lim) as an MP – interest and duty to voice out their dismay and enmity, especially when all the avenues (of complaint) have been exhausted and only for the uproar to fall on deaf ears.
“The defendant voiced his thoughts to the public as he exercised responsible journalism,” she said in ordering Apandi to pay Lim costs of RM80,000.
She also ruled that Lim was justified in his statement urging Apandi to answer why he had absolved Najib Razak of the 1MDB affair in 2016.
Azimah said that Lim was justified in raising the issue, especially after the former prime minister was convicted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2020 in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.
She also noted that Najib’s conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal last year.
Apandi, 72, was present at court today, while Lim, 81, joined the proceeding through Zoom.
Earlier, Azimah rebuked Lim for not turning up in court to hear the decision.
“As a parliamentary man, Lim should have known the law and as a defendant, he should have some respect for this court,” she said.
To this, his lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo said it was her fault as she did not inform her client that he must appear before the court.
“We apologise for this. We thought that it would be sufficient that we are here. He is available by Zoom if this court allows,” said the counsel.
On July 5, 2019, Apandi sued Lim, claiming that on May 6, 2019 Lim had written and caused to be published an article titled “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia’s on the road to integrity” in Malaysiakini.
He claimed that the allegedly libellous words in the article implied that he was involved in crime and had abetted in the 1MDB financial scandal, was a person with no morals and integrity, was unethical and had abused his power when he was the attorney-general.
Apandi, who was the attorney-general from July 27, 2015 to June 4, 2018, said the words were untrue and written with the intention of tarnishing his image and credibility as a former attorney-general for cheap publicity.
He sought aggravated and exemplary damages, as well as RM10 million in general damages, an injunction to prevent Lim and/or his agents from publishing the alleged defamatory words again and other relief deemed fit by the court.