Eizlan-Hans Isaac tiff: Case over WhatsApp message goes to court

KUALA LUMPUR: The tiff between actors Datuk Seri Eizlan Yusof and Datuk Hans Isaac over a WhatsApp message that allegedly linked the former to a production company, said to have received a government grant, has gone to court.

Lawyer Datuk Shaharudin Ali, who is representing Eizlan, said High Court judge Justice Azimah Omar had advised parties to go through mediation or any settlement deemed suitable and agreeable by both sides.

The matter was brought up for case management on Wednesday (June 16) and has been fixed for further case management via Zoom on Aug 12.

Shaharudin said the case was ready to go for trial and the date fixed by the court was to ensure parties to file all the relevant documents for use during trial.

When asked if his client was open for mediation, Shaharudin answered: "Not at the present time".

"Looks like we will meet in court," he told The Star when contacted on Wednesday.

Eizlan, or his real name Idris Md Yusof, had sued Hans for alleged defamation over a WhatsApp message that was sent to the "Persatuan Penerbit Filem Malaysia" (Malaysian Film Producers Association) group chat comprising more than 200 local entertainment producers and practitioners.

In his statement of claim, filed in February, Eizlan said the defendant (Hans) had published or broadcasted a defamatory statement in the group chat at 9.13pm on Nov 16, 2020.

He claimed the message linked him to a production company Excellent Pictures Sdn Bhd (EPSB), which was said to have received a financial grant from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas).

Eizlan, who is a member of Finas board of directors, stated that he had no relation to EPSB as claimed by the defendant, that he was not a director, a shareholder, a contributory or a person associated with EPSB.

He said the defamatory statement had meant to say he had committed an offence or a conflict of interest by helping EPSB obtain the grant.

He claimed that the statement alluded that he was dishonest, a person without integrity and a liar to obtain the government grant.

The message, Eizlan claimed, was then broadcasted out of the group and went viral, causing his image and profession to suffer.

Eizlan is seeking RM2mil in general damages, as well as aggravated and exemplary damages, interests and costs.

He is also seeking an apology from Hans suited to his terms and conditions and approved by the court, and an injunction to refrain Hans or his agents from repeating the statement.

Meanwhile, in Hans' statement of defence filed in March, he stated that the message submitted by the plaintiff in the lawsuit was "incomplete and confusing".

Hans, who was the Finas chairman between April 8, 2019, and May 23, 2020, denied raising any conflict of interest in his message.

"The WhatsApp group was a closed group with 254 members. Any information that spread out of the group is the responsibility of the group admins as they had created that group," he stated.

Hans also contended that Eizlan had acted in films and drama series produced by EPSB between 2004 and 2017, therefore it was impossible to say that the plaintiff was not a contributory or a person associated with the production company.

In November, last year, Eizlan told the press that he would be taking legal action against Hans, whose full name is Gerald Hans Isaac, over accusations that he had used his position as a Finas board member relating to EPSB receiving the Digital Content Fund from Finas.

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