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Azizah, two others ordered to pay RM2m damages to Felda
Published on: Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Kuala Lumpur: The High Court Tuesday ordered PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and two others to pay RM2 million in damages to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and its subsidiary on the publication of defamatory articles, seven years ago.

Judge Datuk Su Geok Yiam ordered Wan Azizah, former Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali and article writer Rusnizam Mahat to pay RM2 million as general and aggravated damages after allowing the appeal of Felda and Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd (FGVH) as the appellants against the RM70,000 damages awarded by the High Court Deputy Registrar here on Feb 13.

Su in her oral judgement, said the court agreed with the argument of counsel Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun who represented Felda that the compensation of RM70,000 and RM10,000 in costs handed to the appellants were far too low and should be increased.

She also said the Deputy Registrar who issued the order on damages earlier failed to evaluate the article entitled "Felda Bankrap' and the other articles with pictures entitled "Kontroversi" and "Bina Bangunan RM662 Juta Hanya Libatkan Tiga Individu" had caused the appellants to suffer financial losses and the shares of Felda also depreciated.

She said the court held the view that if the amount damages was not set aside and replaced with the appropriate quantum, it would cause all parties to take lightly the defamation of the statutory body.

"It will cause others to think they too can defame the statutory body and get away with minor damages.

It will send the wrong message to the people out there.

"As such, it needs the appropriate legal measure for Felda settlers. I hereby exercise the discretionary power which I have to allow this appeal and set aside the amount of damages given to the appellants earlier, " she said, adding that all the respondents would also pay RM25,000 as costs to the appellants.

Apart from Mohd Hafarizam, Felda and FGHV were also represented by counsel Nor Emelia Mohd Iszeham while Francis Pereira acted for all respondents.

On Oct 17 2014, the High Court allowed the suit by Felda and its subsidiary Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd as plaintiffs against the three defendants on the publication of two defamatory articles in PKR's organ "Suara Keadilan".

On Aug 16 2010, Felda and its subsidiary filed a RM200 million defamation suit against the three defendants on the allegations in the two articles Suara Keadilan which defamed Felda.

Felda claimed the articles published on June 22 and 29, 2010 entitled "Felda Bankrap' and the other articles with pictures entitled "Kontroversi" and "Bina Bangunan RM662 Juta Hanya Libatkan Tiga Individu" had affected their image.

On Sept 30 2014, Suara Keadilan former editor, Dzulkarnain Taib who was one of the defendants, apologised to Felda and its subsidiary over the two articles.

He said the articles were false and were published in Suara Keadilan with the intention of belittling the plaintiffs and to smear their reputation. – Bernama

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