Federal Court affirms decisions Nurul Izzah, PKR did not defame National Feedlot Corp
Published on: Monday, March 01, 2021
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Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar (left) leaving the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya today after the Federal Court dismissed NFCorp’s suit against her.
PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today dismissed a defamation appeal by National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) and its executive chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail against Nurul Izzah Anwar and PKR.

Justice Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal said a disputed statement read in its entirety was not defamatory. 

He said even if the statement was found defamatory, Nurul and PKR could rely on the defence of justification. 

“The courts below (High Court and Court of Appeal) were entitled to come to the findings on the core issues as they did,” said Harmindar, who delivered the unanimous verdict of the three-member bench. 

The bench was chaired by Mohd Zawawi Salleh while the third member was Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.

The court also awarded Nurul and PKR RM50,000 in costs. 

The suit was filed on Dec 24, 2013 by NFCorp and Salleh against Nurul, who was then PKR vice-president, and PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail pertaining to a statement over allegations concerning the purchase of eight units at KL Eco City. 

The suit also claimed that Nurul Izzah had made a slanderous statement on Malaysiakini TV on March 7, 2012, relating to the company’s planned purchase of several units of condominiums at KL Eco City in 2007. 

On March 4, 2016, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed their lawsuit after ruling that the statement, when read as a whole, was not defamatory to NFCorp and Salleh. 

NFCorp and Salleh also lost their appeal at the appellate court on July 10, 2017. 

Besides this case, Salleh and NFCorp has another appeal pending against former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, also at the Federal Court. 

Today, Harmindar said the courts below accepted the reasoning that upon reading of the whole statement, the sting of the press statement by Nurul was aimed primarily at the wife of Salleh who is Sharizat Abdul Jalil, the then Lembah Pantai MP. 

This he said came about when the upheaval of the squatters in Kampung Abdullah Hukum was undertaken to make way for the project. 

Harmindar said the focus of Nurul’s statement was the perceived injustice done to those squatters by having to make way with scant compensation. 

He added that the focus was also whether there was any conflict of interest by Sharizat when the units were purchased by her own family members, including Salleh. 

Harmindar said the real question for determination related to the impression created in the mind of the ordinary, reasonable viewer after going through the whole press statement. 

“In our assessment, such person will not pay any attention to the alleged defamatory matter complained of, which was in effect one sentence in a very long statement, and instead focus only on the major part concerning Shahrizat,” he said. 

According to Harmindar, that sentence was meant to be only an introduction to the main sting in that it was a revelation by Rafizi on the misuse of funds. 

“No action has since been filed by Shahrizat in respect of these allegations although a suit was filed against Rafizi for the statement which he had made,” he said. 

On the defence of justification raised, Harmindar said Salleh failed to disclose his sources of income to finance the purchase of the units, apart from making bare assertion as duly noted by the trial judge in the High Court. 

“Considering the possible damaging inference that may arise from the RM71.4 million deposit, Salleh ought to have called someone from Public Bank to support his claim. 

He said it was therefore plain on the evidence that the appellants had used RM71.4 million deposits as leverage for obtaining a loan from the bank. 

Harmindar said it would not have been far-fetched to deduce, from the entirety of the evidence at the trial, that there had been misuse of public funds for personal gain. 

Razlan Hadri Zulkifli and Joshua Kevin represented Nurul while Muhammad Shafee Abdullah appeared for Salleh and NFCorp.


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