Guan Eng sues Utusan, NST over leaked secrets claim
KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has filed a RM15 million defamation suit against two mainstream newspapers and Perkasa leaders over allegations that he had leaked national secrets to Singapore’s ruling PAP party.
In his statement of claim made available to reporters in Parliament today, Lim suggested that the allegation was part of an agenda to help Barisan Nasional (BN) recapture power in Penang, which the ruling pact had lost in Election 2008.
He pointed out that Umno, the leading component party in BN, has a substantial shareholding in both papers through Media Prima Sdn Bhd and was therefore able to “politically manipulate news items for its benefit”.
“Bearing in mind the fact that the plaintiff (Lim), as the Chief Minister of Penang, commands a high degree of respect due to his government’s performance during his term as Chief Minister, it has become imperative for the BN coalition to do all it can to tarnish the plaintiff’s good name in the hope this will entice voters to vote the plaintiff out of office in the next general election,” the statement of claim read.
It added that although Lim had made requests for apology and compensation, the parties had either failed, refused and neglected to do so.
"The defamatory statement issued... and published... in respect of the plaintiff amount to a very serious libel and has resulted in irretrievable tarnish of the plaintiff's good name, standing in society and reputation as an honourable politician and Chief Minister of Penang," the statement said.
Lim also alleged in the statement that the statements were issued with malice, as he had not been contacted by the defendants to verify the truth of the allegation.
"So I have no choice but to act in this way. Their allegations are serious... that I sold the country's secrets.
"But what secrets do I know?" Lim told a press conference in Parliament.
He also denied ever having dinner with PAP leaders, as claimed in the reports, saying it was likely referring to a dinner with businessmen.
In his suit, Lim (picture) named the NST, Utusan Malaysia, Perkasa information officer and Umno member Ruslan Kassim, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, NST group editor Syed Nadzri Syed Harun and Utusan group editor-in-chief Abdul Aziz Ishak as defendants.
He is claiming RM15 million in general, exemplary, aggravated and special damages, an apology “in the manner and form approved by the plaintiff” to be front paged in both NST and Utusan Malaysia, an undertaking from the papers that they would not publish future defamatory matters against him, interest, costs and further relief that the court may deem fit.
The Malaysian Insider reported last December 16 Lim’s intention to file the suit after the newspapers omitted him from an apology to two other personalities over an article it admitted was without any foundation or basis.
The NST, Berita Minggu and Mingguan Malaysia had apologised to Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan on October 23 last year for alleging that he had leaked state secrets at a dinner with PAP leaders.
All three acknowledged that the claim, made by Ruslan, was without any foundation or basis.
The weekend papers had also promised not to publish further allegations of this nature involving the ECM Libra Financial Group Bhd chairman without prior verification.
On October 2, the NST, Berita Minggu and Mingguan Malaysia, quoting Ruslan, alleged that Kalimullah had leaked national secrets during the dinner in Singapore.
The next day Lim publicly demanded an apology from the NST and Mingguan Malaysia for also alleging that he had leaked national secrets at the same dinner.
The English daily reported that Perkasa had claimed that there was a dinner arranged for three Malaysian personalities, including the Penang chief minister, and top Singapore politicians in August.
Ruslan had questioned the motive behind the dinner that was allegedly attended by Malaysia Airlines board member Datuk Mohamad Azman Yahya, businessman Kalimullah and Lim with PAP leaders.
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