Guan Eng and Tan win lawsuit against FZ (Updated)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and local tycoon Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping have won their defamation suit against the now defunct news portal FZ Sdn Bhd and its managing editor Terence Fernandez after some four years of court proceedings.

The High Court here awarded a total of RM320,000 in general damages and legal costs to them after finding that the report from the two respondents contained certain defamatory elements, which had portrayed both Lim and Tan in a bad light.

Justice Dato' Abdul Wahab Mohamed said the plaintiffs had proved to the court that the defamatory content was present when the article was uploaded and remained online before it was removed.

The article entitled "MACC begins probe on Merc purchase," was removed about seven days later, the court noted.

In his lengthy judgement which took over an hour to deliver, Justice Wahab also pointed out that the defense failed to prove that effort was undertaken on the part of the respondents to clarify the matter with either Lim or Tan.

Lim's defamation suit against the online news portal and its author was over his official Mercedes Benz S300L car, whereby the portal had libelously linked the purchase with Tan's alleged position in a car distribution company.

Justice Wahab pointed out that there was no effort made to verify such claims, as Tan had earlier relinquished his position with the car company, and such matters were made public.

The chief minister was represented by Datuk N. Mureli, while Tan's counsels were Christina Siew and Goh Chek Kang.

Raja Eileen Soraya Raja Aman and Amanda Loh acted on behalf of FZ and Fernandez.

Later, Fernandez said that he respected the decision of the court, and he would discuss with his lawyers on whether there was a possibility of filing an appeal.