PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has quashed the RM300,000 in damages awarded to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over an online news article that quoted a heritage activist.
This was confirmed by lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh, who acted for one of the three appellants, heritage advocate Prof Jimmy Lim Cheok Siang.
On Aug 4 last year, the George Town High Court ruled in favour of Guan Eng in his defamation suit over the article "Guan Eng has failed, says NGO", published on online news portal Free Malaysia Today(FMT) on Dec 6, 2013.
The High Court had ordered the three defendants - Cheok Siang, FMT's operator MToday News Sdn Bhd, and its former reporter S. Karunakaran - to pay RM300,000 in damages and RM30,000 in legal cost to Guan Eng, among others.
Baljit today confirmed that the three-man Court of Appeal bench, chaired by judge Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, had set aside the entire lower court's ruling on grounds that the article on a whole was not defamatory.
Baljit said that the bench found that the article was "written in a temperate tone". He added that the bench made no order to cost.
When met after proceedings today, Cheok Siang, expressed his relief and elation at the ruling.
"It brings tears to my eyes," said the grey-haired activist as Baljit stood beside him.
Cheok Siang said he had nothing personally against anyone and that hewould continue to fight for Penang's heritage, both man-made and natural.
"I am non-partisan," said Cheok Siang, adding that all he had done was for the wellbeing of Penang.
Lawyer Clement G. Lopez acted for MToday News and Karunakaran, while lawyer Datuk N. Mureli appeared for Guan Eng.