Former Malaysia Tourism Promotion chairman loses appeal against AirAsia civil suit

PUTRAJAYA: Former chairman of Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Wee Choo Keong lost his appeal for the discovery of documents in a civil suit filed by AirAsia Berhad against him for publishing allegedly defamatory statements in his blog.

The Court of Appeal panel of judges led by Datuk Lim Yee Lan dismissed the appeal with RM5,000 cost, today.

"This is a unanimous decision. We find no merit in this appeal, to warrant us to intervene," said Lim in affirming the High Court decision on May 23, 2017, to dismiss Wee's application.

The other judges were Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Datuk Yeoh Wee Siam.

In their statement of claim dated June 19, 2015, AirAsia filed the defamation suit stating that Wee had published an article titled Why Liow and MAHB encouraged AirAsia to owe RM50 million PSC/Airport Tax?, on April 20, 2015.

(The article alleged that AirAsia owed "Passengers Service Charge" (PSC), formerly known as "Airport Tax" of more than RM50 million to Malaysia Airport Holding Bhd (MAHB)).

The airline claimed that the article contained false and defamatory statements.

Wee's lawyer Khoo Guan Huat said the High Court judicial commissioner had misdirected herself on the principle of law, in dismissing the application.

He said the documents sought in the application were necessary, relevant, and related to the amount owed by AirAsia.

AirAsia's lawyer Leonard Yeoh contended that Wee, who had pleaded for "defence of justification" in his statement of defence should have the full knowledge, documents, and evidence to prove his defence of justification.

He said Wee had pleaded in his statement of defence that his "words are true in substance and fact", "the statement is supported or based on true and substantially true fact" and published within his knowledge and "justified based on facts."

"The court cannot allow for someone to publish or utter statements and rely on 'defence of justification' and go back to the respondent (AirAsia) and ask - 'can you show all your documents?'," said Yeoh.

He said the appellant (Wee) cannot make defamatory statements and then apply for the discovery of documents from the respondent (AirAsia).

"The appellant should have the sufficient evidence before uttering statements defaming someone and not after," he said.

The case is fixed for hearing on Sept 4 before a High Court.