PUTRAJAYA: News portal Malaysiakini has been ordered by the Court of Appeal here to pay RM350,000 in damages and legal costs to the Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) over articles and videos it published which were found to be defamatory.
A three-man panel, led by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, made the order after ruling that a Kuala Lumpur High Court had erred in dismissing the RAGM’s claim.
The panel also allowed an injunction on the publication of the three articles and two videos.
Two other judges on the panel were Justices Mary Lim and Suraya Othman.
In the unanimous decision read by Justice Suraya, the panel said the portal’s reports and videos on the gold mine were “reckless” and carried an accusatory and damaging tone.
The reports, the court said, were one-sided as it did not carry responses from the Environment Department, the Health Ministry and the Land and Mines Department.
“Upon perusal of the said articles and viewing the articles and videos, the respondent had only highlighted one side of the Bukit Koman community,” Justice Soraya said, adding the Health Ministry had refuted the claim in the report.
The court then ordered for Malaysiakini to pay RM200,000 in damages and RM150,000 in legal costs to RAGM.
On May 23, 2016, the High Court dismissed RAGM’s claim against Malaysiakini and three other defendants who were members of the editorial staff.
The Bukit Koman villagers in Pahang had alleged that the use of cyanide-related chemicals to extract gold at the mine had affected their health.
Malaysiakini is appealing the decision at the Federal Court. Lawyers James Khong and Syahredzan Johan represented the portal while Cecil Abraham represented RAGM.