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 Local

Tan Sri Harris wins defamation suit

20th May, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh won a defamation suit against the brother of the late Tan Sri Syed Kechik Syed Mohamed Albukhary, the author, printer, publisher and distributor of a book pertaining to the Zara Project land, where the UMS now sits, during his tenure as Chief Minister.

High Court Judge Ravinthran N. Paramaguru awarded Harris a total of RM350,000 in damages and in costs.

In December 2014, Harris filed the suit and in his statement of claims, said the book entitled “Vendetta and Abuse of Power: Quest for Justice in the Land Below the Wind – Political Vindictiveness and Personal Vilification Against Syed Kechik in Sabah (1975-2013)” that was launched on Jan 18, 2014 contained damaging comments on him.

He named the author, Dr Shaari Isa, as the first defendant, Syed Salem Albukhary who is the brother of the late Syed Kechik as the second defendant, and MPH Group Printing (M) Sdn Bhd, MPH Group Publishing Sdn Bhd and MPH Distributors Sdn Bhd as the third, fourth and fifth defendants, respectively.

Harris was claiming for general damages, aggravated and exemplary damages for libel; interest at the rate of five per cent per annum on all sums awarded to the Plaintiff from the date of the publication of the said book on January 1, 2014 until full payment; a permanent injunction to restrain the Defendants and/or any of them whether by themselves or their servants and/or employee or agents from printing and publishing further the said book and/or similar libel on the Plaintiff in any form or means whatsoever.

He was also seeking a mandatory injunction to compel the third to fifth Defendants to forthwith cease selling the said book from all bookstores and online purchase and to take all necessary steps to retract and to remove the said book from all bookstores and to remove the said book from online purchase, costs; and any further or other relief that the court may deem just and fit to grant in the circumstances.

Earlier, the court among others ruled that no evidence to justify the accusations. The court said it’s not fair comment but statement of facts and even fair comment is established malice has proven.

The court ordered general damages and aggravated damages of RM50,000 against Dr Shaari and RM100,000 against Syed Salem. The third to fifth defendants jointly ordered to pay RM100,000.

The court also ordered Dr Shaari and Syed Salem to pay cost of RM50,000 and the third, fourth and fifth defendants also to pay cost of RM50,000 to the plaintiff.

The court further granted the second prayer – the specific request for judgment, relief and/or damages at the conclusion of a complaint or petition – (interest at the rate of five per cent per annum on all sums awarded to the Plaintiff from the date of the publication of the said book on January 1, 2014 until full payment) from the date of judgment.

The court also granted the third prayer (a permanent injunction to restrain the Defendants and/or any of them whether by themselves or their servants and/or employee or agents from printing and publishing further the said book and/or similar libel on the Plaintiff in any form or means whatsoever).

Counsels Trevor Maringking and Yunof Maringking represented Harris while counsels Raymond Szetu and Tiong Jia Yi, represented the first and second defendants.

The trial started on August 2016 while the plaintiff was the sole witness with the defence calling five witnesses. Harris was not present in court yesterday. – ECA

   
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