KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has dismissed a defamation suit filed by former chief executive officer of a local telecommunications company, Jason Jonathan Lo (pic), against the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) over two articles published in 2019 and 2020.
Jason filed the lawsuit in July 2021 in relation to two articles published by Bernama, titled "Former Telco CEO charged with trespassing, injecting drug into body” and "Court charges singer Jason Lo & colleague with CBT of RM200,000”.
Judicial Commissioner (JC) Datuk Raja Ahmad Mohzanuddin Shah Raja Mohzan, in his decision delivered on Tuesday (May 30), ruled that the court found no malice in regard to the articles as claimed by the plaintiff (Jason).
"In regard to the first impugned article, reading as a whole would lead to the conclusion that the plaintiff was charged separately in different Magistrate’s Courts with trespassing and injecting drugs. The court finds that after reading the first impugned article in its entirety, the plaintiff did not appear to have trespassed into a house only to inject drugs.
"Regarding the use of injecting drug into body, as opposed to consuming self-administering drugs, it is important to note that the first impugned article was only designed to inform the public that Jason had been charged with the drug offence under Section 15(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
"In fact, it was clear from the said article that the plaintiff had pleaded not guilty to both charges and had been released on bail,” said Raja Ahmad Mohzanuddin.
On the second impugned article, the court found that after reading the entire article, it appears from the very beginning that the plaintiff did not plead guilty to the charge and the article stated clearly that the plaintiff was accused of criminal breach of trust (CBT) but no assignment of guilt was made to him.
"Furthermore, the article specifically stated that the plaintiff had been released on RM30,000 bail. Reasonably, this would not conclude that the plaintiff admitted to this offence. Taking the entire article into account, it negates any understanding that the plaintiff confessed to the crime,” he said.
He said that anyone reading the entire text would recognise that the plaintiff had only been charged but had not yet been proven of committing the crime.
"Reading the second article in full, the court finds that the act of reporting that Jason has been charged with certain offences and alleged to have committed a certain crime, cannot be defamatory,” he said and ordered the plaintiff to pay RM15,000 in costs to the news agency.
The court made the ruling after hearing evidence from Jason as a plaintiff and three witnesses from the defendant.
The matter was confirmed by counsel Adam Luqman Amdan, representing Bernama.- Bernama