Two govt staff win suit over social media libel
Published on: Saturday, June 09, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: Two government servants won their suit against two individuals over defamatory remarks about them in WhatsApp Messenger, a free messaging app, two years ago. It is believed to be the first case involving social media in Sabah.On Friday, Sessions Court Judge Indra Ayub found that the plaintiffs, Siti Halizah Yahya and Mohd Faiz Mohd Yusof, had proved their defamation case against one Jusinah Kamin and Mokti Norbek, as the first and second defendants, and that the defence of justification and/or fair comment was not sustainable.

The court ordered the defendants to pay RM10,000 in global damages to the plaintiffs.

Indra also instructed the defendants to pay RM1,325 in cost.

The plaintiffs had filed the lawsuit against the defendants on June 16, 2016 claiming RM500,000 as well as punitive damages, injunctive relief against the two defendants restraining them from making defamatory remarks about the plaintiffs, statutory interest, cost and any other relief deemed fit by the court.

In their statement of claim, the first plaintiff, a Syariah Court Deputy Registrar and the second plaintiff, a police officer, claimed that they suffered a loss to their reputations and damages due to the messages created by the defendants which were defamatory.

The plaintiffs claimed that on April 26, 2016 they received the screenshot of WhatsApp text messages displayed on Malay, Bajau and Sabahan Malay by the second defendant to a woman, which has been circulated, and lodged a police report on April 29.

The plaintiffs claimed that the statement made by the defendants were meant to disparage their reputation.

In his decision, Indra, among others, held that the elements of defamation had been proven by the plaintiffs and that the statements made by the defendants had disparaged the good name and reputation of the plaintiffs.

Indra held that having read the contents of the WhatsApp messages, he opined that they were highly defamatory of the plaintiffs.

He also held that the WhatsApp messages was duly published to a third party and has a tendency to lower the plaintiffs' reputation. Such publication has adversely affecting their reputation.

He found that the defendants were responsible for the publication of the alleged defamatory allegations against the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs were represented by counsel Nurul Rafeeqa Afdul Mutolip, while the defendants were represented by counsel Muhd Amirul Amin.


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