KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Water concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) has won a defamation suit against DAP’s Tony Pua, the High Court ruled today.
High Court judge Justice Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah ordered the Petaling Jaya Utara MP to pay Syabas RM200,000 in damages and four per cent in interest per annum, Pua’s lawyer Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi told reporters.
She noted that the words, based on a circulation figure of more than 33,000 people, would carry more weight as he is a Member of Parliament, DAP national publicity secretary and a Selangor state government Water Review Panel member.
Justice Amelia also imposed an injunction on Pua, restraining him from repeating the defamatory words or making similar statements in the future.
She dismissed Pua’s counter-claim of damages for harassment from Syabas’ alleged frivolous and vexatious claim.
In the decision made in judges’ chambers, Justice Amelia rejected Pua’s defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege.
Pua told reporters that he will appeal the decision, saying “there’s no reason not to appeal” and “what I said was hardly defamatory”.
In the court case filed on January 28 last year, Syabas claimed that Pua had caused Nanyang Siang Pau’s Metro edition to publish statements that defamed it in a November 16, 2010 article, titled “Tony Pua: Selangor government must have water rights to prevent rate hike”.
In its statement of claim, Syabas said the article implied that it was incompetent in managing water supply rights given its inability to repay its debts and to replace water pipes.
In the offending article, Pua was quoted as saying that if the water concessionaires could not settle their debts, the state government should take over water supply management in Selangor.