KUALA LUMPUR: Fuelsubs House Sdn Bhd is taking to court a news portal that published an alleged libelous article about it in relation to a bid for the national fuel subsidy rationalisation programme.
Apart from the news portal, the company is also sending a letter of demand to another newspaper and a blog for the same reason. Fuelsubs House provides export and import of crude petroleum oils, and business management consultancy.
The legal firm representing Fuelsubs, Shafee & Co, said the news portal had responded to its legal notice, saying that it had not intended to defame the company but would not apologise.
“We are taking the next step of taking them to court. We have no choice,” said senior lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah here yesterday.
Fuelsubs House had earlier claimed that the portal’s article insinuated that the company did not have the credibility to qualify them to bid for the fuel subsidy programme.
In the earlier letter of demand, the company demanded an unreserved apology to be published in major newspapers as well as a sum of RM100mil as compensation.
Dr Muhammad Shafee said the newspaper, in its article dated Aug 19, claimed to have insider information on what transpired during a Cabinet meeting.
Apparently, it claimed that the Cabinet had decided that the awarding of the contract would be put on hold as awarding it to the company via direct negotiation instead of an open tender would be seen as unfair.
Cabinet documents and deliberations, Dr Muhammad Shafee said, were covered by the Official Secrets Act 1972.
“If they really got this information, we would like to know which minister revealed this to them – if it was a minister.
“Under our law, the source cannot be protected. Especially (when) official secrets are revealed, the court can compel the offender to reveal the name of the source,” he said.
“This is not a project that can be tendered. It is a private initiative – you come up with the idea and it is your own intellectual property. Therefore, either the Government accepts it, with adjustments or as a whole, or not,” he said.
Dr Muhammad Shafee added that the article insinuated that it was of serious concern of the public if the tender were to be given to Fuelsubs.
The company is seeking damages of RM100mil from each publication,” he said.