Court orders Ibrahim Ali to pay Lim Guan Eng RM150,000

Federal Court judge Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal said the High Court was more than justified in awarding compensation of RM150,000 to be paid by Perkasa and its officials which he noted was not excessive. Source (pic): TTf Files

محكمه اره إبراهيم علي باير ليم ڬوان اڠ رم150،000

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The Federal Court in a majority decision today said Perkasa and its then president Datuk Ibrahim Ali have to pay RM150,000 in damages to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng over the group’s defamatory statements published in October 2011, as ordered by a previous court.

The Federal Court’s three-judge panel chaired by Federal Court judge Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan had last September heard Lim’s appeal against the Malay rights group and Ibrahim, with two judges today deciding in the DAP secretary-general’s favour.

On May 11, 2012, Lim filed a defamation lawsuit against seven defendants. He named them as then Perkasa information chief Ruslan Kassim, Ibrahim, Perkasa (its full name) Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia, the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Datuk Syed Nadri Syed Harun who was group editor for two of NSTP’s publications, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad and its then group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak.

According to Lim’s statement of claim, the defamatory statement by Ruslan dated October 1, 2011 was published on Perkasa’s website, with contents in the same statement subsequently published on October 2, 2011 by NSTP’s New Sunday Times and Berita Minggu as well as Utusan Melayu’s Mingguan Malaysia.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Court in a majority decision today said Perkasa and its then president Datuk Ibrahim Ali have to pay RM150,000 in damages to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng over the group’s defamatory statements published in October 2011, as ordered by a previous court.

The Federal Court’s three-judge panel chaired by Federal Court judge Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan had last September heard Lim’s appeal against the Malay rights group and Ibrahim, with two judges today deciding in the DAP secretary-general’s favour.




In reading out the summary of the majority judgment that was also agreed by Justice Nallini, Federal Court judge Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal said the High Court was more than justified in awarding compensation of RM150,000 to be paid by Perkasa and its officials which he noted was not excessive.

“In conclusion and for the reasons mentioned, a public officer when suing as an individual,whether suing in personal or official capacity is not prohibited from bringing a defamation action,” the judge said when reading out the summary in an online proceeding via Zoom.

“Accordingly, the appeal is allowed, the orders of the High Court in relation to the respondents here are hereby restored,” he said, when restoring the RM150,000 amount that the High Court had ordered Perkasa and Ibrahim Ali to pay.

Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli also read his minority judgment, where he said Lim’s appeal should be dismissed.

On May 11, 2012, Lim filed a defamation lawsuit against seven defendants. He named them as then Perkasa information chief Ruslan Kassim, Ibrahim, Perkasa (its full name) Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia, the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Datuk Syed Nadri Syed Harun who was group editor for two of NSTP’s publications, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad and its then group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak.

According to Lim’s statement of claim, the defamatory statement by Ruslan dated October 1, 2011 was published on Perkasa’s website, with contents in the same statement subsequently published on October 2, 2011 by NSTP’s New Sunday Times and Berita Minggu as well as Utusan Melayu’s Mingguan Malaysia.

The defamatory statement came after Lim’s official visit as then Penang chief minister in leading a delegation by InvestPenang to Singapore on August 11 and August 12, 2011 to promote investment in the Malaysian state.

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Apologies were later published by the three newspapers towards two local corporate figures which Ruslan had named in his statement on Lim. But in his court filing, Lim said that Ruslan and the three publications had failed to apologise to him prior to the lawsuit despite written demands to them.

Among other things, Lim claimed in his lawsuit that the defamatory statements had tarnished his reputation as an honourable politician and chief minister of Penang, and had falsely accused him of treason by revealing national secrets to the Singapore government.

He also claimed that the statements published were with malice without regard to the truth and that he had not been contacted before publication nor the information verified beforehand.

Lim sought RM150 million in general, exemplary, aggravated and special damages, apologies to be printed by the newspapers on their front page and an undertaking by the newspapers’ publishers to refrain from publishing such defamatory statements.

On March 26, 2015, High Court judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin ruled in favour of Lim, finding that the statements by Perkasa’s Ruslan and published by the three newspapers were defamatory in nature against him.

The judge had also ruled that the seven defendants had failed in their defences and ruled that they were liable to compensate Lim for the defamation.

She ordered a total of RM550,000 to be paid in general and aggravated damages, with Ruslan, Ibrahim and Perkasa to pay RM150,000, and RM200,000 to be paid by NSTP and its then editor and RM200,000 to be paid by Utusan Melayu and its then editor-in-chief.

All seven defendants later appealed to the Court of Appeal, which agreed on December 21, 2016 to hear their case.

A three-judge Bench in the Court of Appeal comprising Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan agreed with the High Court that the statements had defamed Lim, agreeing that Perkasa and its two officials had failed in their bid to use the defence of justification and fair comment, and agreed that the rest had also failed in their defence.

However, the Court of Appeal said that aggravated damages are usually awarded only for cases involving “high-handedness or oppressive action” and that it should not be awarded in this case as there was no evidence of the defendants acting in a high-handed or insulting manner against Lim.

It also said only general damages of RM50,000 should be paid jointly by Ruslan, Ibrahim, Perkasa, RM50,000 to be paid jointly by NSTP and its then editor, RM50,000 to be paid jointly by Utusan Melayu and its then editor-in-chief.

The Court of Appeal accepted the appeals against the High Court decision and dismissed Lim’s defamation lawsuit which he had filed his lawsuit in his official capacity as then Penang chief minister.

Lim then appealed to the Federal Court, but did not proceed with his appeals against NSTP and Utusan Melayu and its editors as both publishers had agreed in March 2019 to pay RM200,000 each to Lim as previously ordered by the High Court.

The Federal Court on July 11, 2019 granted Lim leave to appeal against Ruslan, Ibrahim and Perkasa and on September 22, 2020 heard his appeal.

But by the time the appeal was heard, Lim had withdrawn his appeal against Ruslan who had since died. All the parties in the suit agreed that there would be no judgments enforced against the late Ruslan’s estate.

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