Anwar's defamation suit against TV3 on Lahad Datu intrusion to be decided on May 14

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has fixed May 14 to decide Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's suit against TV3 for linking him to the intrusion of Filipino militants at Lahad Datu.

Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim fixed the date after hearing submissions from both sides on Tuesday (April 3).

Counsel Datuk S. Ambiga acted for Anwar while Liew Teck Huat, assisted by Lim Qi Si, for TV3 (Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad).

Ambiga submitted that the defendants implied Anwar was a "puppet master" in the Lahad Datu intrusion, in an article published in Utusan Malaysia on April 2, 2013. 

"This is completely false and it is dangerous. The accusation is basically treason," she said. 

The former Opposition leader had named TV3, its group managing editor Datuk Shahruddin Abdul Latif and its Buletin Utama news editor Ing Boon Seng as defendants.

Ambiga said the news was quoted by TV3 and was aired on the Buletin Utama news programme the same day, adding that republishing the article meant that the defendants were repeating the defamation.

She added that it was more serious because the news was published shortly before the 13th General Election.

Ambiga said that when cross-examining TV3's news presenter Kamaruddin Mape, he agreed that he did not verify and check the source of articles, namely two Philippine publications and a Reuters report.

She added that while Utusan decided to withdraw the article, TV3 maintained the allegation of treason for five years.

On Oct 5, 2016, Utusan Melayu and its group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak had settled the suit after Utusan Melayu’s counsel Wan Azmir Wan Majid read out a statement of regret on behalf of his clients in open court as part of the terms of the settlement.

Under the terms, Utusan Melayu and Abdul Aziz agreed to pay Anwar RM50,000 in damages and publish a statement of regret in its newspaper within two weeks.

However, for TV3, Liew said it has "social responsibility" as a media organisation, and it needed to share the information with the public.

He said his client had discharged its public duty to share the information and had considered it reliable based on editorial judgment.

In his suit filed on March 8, 2013, Anwar is seeking RM100mil in damages and is claiming the statements issued by them had implied that he was a threat to national security, a traitor and involved in terrorism.

However, in TV3’s statement of defence, which was filed on April 17 2013, the station’s owner maintained that the Buletin Utama programme did not defame Anwar and that it had exercised "responsible journalism".

TV3 contended that the news programme contains a fair, accurate and contemporaneous report of the issue in Lahad Datu at the material time based on various reports already available in the public domain.
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