KUALA LUMPUR — Dec. 5, 2017: The High Court today ordered PKR president Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and two others to pay RM2 million in damages to Felda and its subsidiary over defamatory articles seven years ago.
Judge Datuk Su Geok Yiam made the decision against Wan Azizah, former senator Dr. Syed Husin Ali and writer Rusnizam Mahat after allowing the appeal by Felda and Felda Global Ventures Holdings against the RM70,000 damages awarded by a high court deputy registrar on February 13.
Su said the court agreed with the argument of counsel Datuk Mohd. Hafarizam Harun that the compensation of RM70,000 and RM10,000 in costs were far too low.
She also said the deputy registrar had failed to evaluate that the articles and photos had caused the appellants to suffer financial losses, while the shares of Felda depreciated in value.
The court held the view that if the original amount was not set aside and replaced with the appropriate quantum, it would cause all parties to take lightly the defamation of the statutory body.
“It will cause others to think they too can defame the statutory body and get away with minor damages. It will send the wrong message to the people out there.
“As such, it needs the appropriate legal measure for Felda settlers. I hereby exercise the discretionary power which I have to allow this appeal and set aside the amount of damages given earlier, ” she said, adding that all the respondents would also pay RM25,000 as costs.
On October 17, 2014, a High Court allowed the suit by Felda and FGV against the three on the publication of two defamatory articles in PKR’s Suara Keadilan. On August 16, 2010, Felda and its subsidiary filed a RM200 million defamation suit against the three.
Felda claimed that the articles entitled “Felda Bankrap” and the other articles with pictures entitled “Kontroversi” and “Bina Bangunan RM662 Juta Hanya Libatkan Tiga Individu” had affected their image.
On September 30, 2014, Suara Keadilan’s former editor Dzulkarnain Taib, who was one of the defendants, apologised to Felda and its subsidiary.
He admitted that the articles were false and were published with the intention of belittling the plaintiffs and to smear their reputation. — Bernama