Guan Eng demands RM20m in damages from Raja Petra over Penang undersea tunnel articles

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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, the plaintiff said, a total of 20 articles have been published in both English and Malay by the Malaysia Today portal, belonging to Raja Petra since February 2019.

“I am demanding RM1 million in damages for each article. The series of articles have been shared by internet users and they have still not been removed by the defendant,” he said in his testimony in the hearing to assess the quantum of damages, before Kuala Lumpur 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 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 amounting to RM500,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, lawyer Simon Murali, who is representing Lim, submitted that Malaysia Today is a free online portal that could be accessed by anyone and every article published could be shared by readers.

“There is no doubt that the dissemination of publications via the internet is able to 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 series. As such, the general damages claim of RM1 million for each article is reasonable,” said the lawyer.

The court then set April 26 for the plaintiff to file additional submissions, and the decision on the quantum of damages to be awarded was fixed to be delivered via Zoom on May 25.

On February 28 last year, Lim obtained a summary judgment against Raja Petra after the blogger did not contest the suit.

Lim filed the suit on September 6, 2019, over a series of “From the MACC Files” articles, in both English and Bahasa Malaysia versions, carried on Raja Petra’s online news portal, Malaysia Today, between February 24 and March 15, 2019.

The purported defamatory articles are with regard to MACC’s investigation into alleged corruption in the infrastructure project.

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 placed in three newspapers on February 10 last year.

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 but was unsuccessful.