KUALA LUMPUR: A reporter of a newspaper is not required to reveal his sources in a defamation case, declared the High Court here yesterday.
High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan dismissed an application by Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to compel Joseph Sipalan, a former New Straits Times journalist, to reveal the sources for a story he had written.
Joseph wrote an article with the heading “Chua and Tiong in cahoots?” that was published in New Sunday Times on Sept 6, 2009.
The article is now the subject matter in the defamation suit filed by Tiong against former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
Justice Lau had ordered Tiong to pay RM15,000 in costs to Joseph, represented by Bhag Singh and RM5,000 to Ong, represented by Chan Tze Yuen.
The judge made the decision in his chambers after hearing submissions from all parties.
Speaking to the reporters later, Tiong’s counsel Prem Ramachandran said that they would appeal the ruling.
Prem had argued that the disclosure of sources by a reporter is relevant in a defamation case.
Joseph, 31, had earlier testified that a few people were his sources for that story.
However, he refused to reveal their identities, prompting Tiong to subsequently file the application to compel Joseph to reveal his sources.
In his sworn evidence on Jan 30, Tiong said that in the article, Ong had accused him of conspiring with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to bring him down.
Tiong had originally filed a suit on Oct 12, 2009 against The New Straits Times Press Bhd (NSTP), its group editor Datuk Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Joseph and Ong. He later withdrew his claim against NSTP, Syed Nadzri and Joseph.