PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court will hear and determine a legal question on whether political parties can file defamation suits against individuals.
This follows a decision by a three-man bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed to allow Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng’s application to obtain leave to pursue his appeal in the Federal Court pertaining to a defamation suit filed against him by MCA.
Yesterday, Justice Azahar granted leave for Lim to appeal against the Court of Appeal and High Court decisions, saying that there were merits for the court to hear his appeal on the legal question.
In July 2017, then MCA secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan filed a defamation suit against Lim over remarks he made at a press conference at Parliament building in 2016.
Ong claimed that Lim’s remarks seriously injured MCA’s reputation, adding that the party was seeking RM100mil in general and exemplary damages.
In Feb 27,2018, the High Court rejected Lim’s application to strike out the suit and he lost his appeal at the Court of Appeal, dismissed on grounds that there were issues to be tried before the High Court.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, representing Lim, submitted that political parties, cannot file defamation suits because they have no reputation unlike an individual.
He, however, said they could be sued or sue for other civil actions.
Sri Ram said leave should be granted as there was no court decision on defamation suits filed by political parties.
Ang Boon Heng, representing Ong, submitted that leave ought not to be granted as the law on the issue was settled following a Federal Court decision two years ago in a defamation suit filed by the Sarawak government against Sarawak DAP chairman, Chong Chieng Jen.
The Federal Court in that case ruled that the government could sue individuals for defamation. — Bernama
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