Legal tussle settled

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 10, 2012): The RM50 million defamation suit and RM150 million counter claim filed by businessman Datuk Seri Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan against lawyer Matthias Chang Wen Chieh has been amicably settled after both parties apologised to each other.

Chang's counsel Datuk R.K. Nathan told reporters that High Court Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad recorded the settlement after the settlement statement was read out in court.

In the statement read out by Nathan in chambers, Kalimullah apologised to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for any embarrassment caused to the former prime minister over his article in the New Sunday Times published on June 11, 2006.

The article was in relation to the then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's meeting with Mahathir in Japan.

Nathan said Chang also unreservedly withdrew and retracted all allegations he made against Kalimullah during a press conference held on June 13, 2006 and apologised to him and ECM Libra for any embarrassment caused to him as a result.

"And the plaintiff also withdrew and retracted all allegations he had made in respect of his article on June 11, 2006 in the New Sunday Times with regard to Abdullah's meeting with Mahathir in Japan and also apologised to Mahathir for any embarrassment caused thereby," he said.

Nathan also said there was no order as to costs.

Meanwhile, Chang told reporters that he felt vindicated as Kalimullah had unreservedly apologised over the allegations about Mahathir in his article.

"To me it was important that Mahathir had been vindicated as well as me," he said.

Kalimullah also said he felt vindicated and glad that the allegations had been withdrawn, as well as for the apology and retraction made by Chang.

"My family, friends and I have gone through tremendous stress and duress because of these baseless allegations," he said.

"I accept his apology with an open mind and want to move on. This should never have happened but I am glad it is over," said Kalimullah, who was represented by counsel Prakash Menon.

Kalimullah had filed the defamation suit on June 29, 2006 after Chang had allegedly made statements against him on June 13 the same year at a press conference, a report of which was published in the Straits Times of Singapore through its Malaysian correspondent Leslie Lau.

Chang, previously a political secretary to Mahathir, filed a counter-claim against Kalimullah on July 14, 2006, seeking RM150 million in damages among others.

The settlement came while the suit was still being heard in court with the hearing scheduled to continue yesterday. The court before this had heard Kalimullah's testimony while the defendant had yet to present his case. – Bernama