Judge: Kit Siang’s defence enough to defeat Apandi’s RM10m defamation suit

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The High Court has maintained that Lim Kit Siang’s defence of justification alone was sufficient to defeat former attorney-general Apandi Ali’s defamation suit against the veteran MP.

Judge Azimah Omar said the Iskandar Puteri MP had also succeeded in the defence of qualified privilege, which she considered academic, to ward off the RM10 million suit filed in 2019.

“It is the court’s decision that, on the balance of probabilities, the plaintiff (Apandi) has failed to prove his claim. This court hereby dismisses the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant (Lim),” she said in her 100-page judgment released yesterday.

In delivering her oral ruling on May 23, Azimah also ordered Apandi to pay Lim RM80,000 in costs.

Apandi’s lawyer M Visvanathan told FMT he will file a memorandum of appeal to list where the trial judge had erred in law and on the facts.  A notice of appeal was filed earlier.

Azimah said Lim had concrete evidence to justify his defamatory imputations.

Hence, she added, the evidence and circumstances gave reasonable grounds to call for investigation as to whether the plaintiff had indeed covered up the 1MDB scandal.

“Thus, it is exceedingly obvious that the defendant has successfully led cogent evidence to succeed in his defence of justification,” she said.

Azimah said Lim had also shown circumstantial evidence in the form of Apandi’s appointment as attorney-general in July 2015 to replace Abdul Gani Patail as well as his political ties with then prime minister Najib Razak.

However, she said Lim’s defence of justification was sufficiently proven even without the aid of circumstantial evidence.

Azimah said Apandi had admitted under cross-examination that no one was prosecuted for the 1MDB scandal during his tenure that lasted until May 2018.

“The defendant is well within his right to voice out his thoughts to the public at large,” she added.

Azimah said Lim had an interest, moral duty and legal obligation to publish his impugned defamatory statement on his blog as the scandal seeks to destroy and bring the Malaysian administration of justice, policing, prosecution and financial governance into utter disrepute.

She said the Malaysian public had a corresponding interest to be in the know and informed of Apandi’s action or inactions.

Lim published the article titled “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia is on the road to integrity” which was republished by Malaysiakini.

In his suit, Apandi had alleged that Lim’s statement depicted him as someone who was immoral and unethical, without integrity, and had practised double standards while holding the position of attorney-general.

Lawyers Ramkarpal Singh, Sangeet Kaur Deo and Simranjit Kaur represented Lim. – FMT