China Press, Guang Ming Daily ordered to pay Guan Eng RM150k damages over defamatory articles

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The Penang High Court has ordered two Chinese dailies to pay former finance minister Lim Guan Eng RM150,000 in damages over defamatory articles published three years ago.

The articles published by China Press and Guang Ming Daily involved remarks by a businessman who was slapped with an order to pay RM2.4 million in tax arrears to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).

In the articles published in 2019, the businessman insinuated that the taxman was after him after being instigated by Lim.

In delivering the verdict in favour of Lim, judge Tun Majid Tun Hamzah said the dailies did not seek Lim’s side of the story before publishing the reports.

He ordered the publishers – Guang Ming Ribao Sdn Bhd and The China Press Berhad – to pay a total of RM120,000 in damages and RM30,000 in costs.

The articles were published on China Press’ online news portal on May 13, 2019, and Guang Ming Daily published it in its print edition the next day.

They were based on a press conference held by businessman Chang Wei Lu, a former leader of a Chinese clan council and business chamber in Penang.

Based on court documents, Chang had said his RM500,000 donation to the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College had “inadvertently” upset Lim, who had refused to fund the institution.

At the same time, he said, he was slapped with a RM2.4 million bill by LHDN and was barred from leaving the country.

Bernama

Lim contended that the published remarks made him look like he had abused his power as the finance minister and “misused” LHDN to go against Chang.

He said the statements had “gravely injured” his character, reputation and good name, adding that China Press and Guang Ming Daily were supposed to uphold responsible journalism.

Both publications had told the court they had sought Lim’s comment after the articles were published, but he refused to comment.

K Simon Murali appeared for Lim, while Yiew Voon Lee appeared for China Press and Guang Ming Daily. – FMT