GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and PAS leader Nasrudin Hassan have agreed to settle a defamation suit over a Facebook posting about the Penang Tunnel project.
Nasrudin, who is the PAS information chief, told the High Court that after examining the documents submitted to the court, he regretted that his statements had led to a misunderstanding with Lim.
The case was originally fixed for its first day of hearing yesterday, but the court recorded a statement of settlement after both parties reached an agreement.
Earlier, Lim and Nasrudin spent more than an hour in Judicial Commissioner (JC) Lim Chong Fong’s chambers without their counsel.
There was some confusion in the open court later when Nasrudin took to the witness stand and said that he would withdraw only some of the “points” made in his article about the project.
“Both sides have decided not to prolong the defamation suit.
“I will withdraw some of the ‘points’ made in my article, which were found to be baseless, against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.”
Judicial Commissioner Chong Fong reminded Nasrudin that his remarks in court did not match what was recorded in the statement of settlement between both parties in his chambers earlier.
Nasrudin replied that he understood this, but he did not want to retract his whole article, but only parts of it that were relevant to Lim.
Lim had filed the suit against Nasrudin over an article titled “Apa Beza Kidex dan Penang Tunnel? (What is the difference between Kidex and Penang Tunnel?)” on Aug 6, 2014, which was posted on Nasrudin’s Facebook page.
Nasrudin, who was named as defendant, was ordered yesterday to pay RM10,000 in costs.
No apology from Nasrudin was recorded by the court.
In Lim’s statement of claim, he alleged that Nasrudin had wrongly, intentionally and with malice written and uploaded the article.
Lim said Nasrudin had alleged in the article that Penang would build a 6.5km-long tunnel, costing RM4.63bil, and awarded the project to Construction Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd through direct negotiations.
He also said that Nasrudin’s claim that 2014 was the sixth year the state government suffered a deficit had tainted his reputation as a politician, which implied that he was an irresponsible person who had caused the Penang government to record deficit budgets for six consecutive years.
In Nasrudin’s statement of defence, he claimed that the state government was a public authority, which could not bring an action for defamation and that the statements were qualified, privileged and fair comment.
Nasrudin told reporters later that if he had apologised, it would mean that he was wrong (about writing the article).
Lim said Nasrudin’s admission of regret proved that the state government had conducted an open tender for the project.