Malaysiakini NEWS

Adnan appealing 'politicians can't sue media' ruling to Federal Court

Hafiz Yatim  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob has filed leave to appeal at the Federal Court over a decision made by the Court of Appeal last month, in his suit against Utusan Malaysia , that politicians as public figures cannot sue the media for defamation.

The application was filed by Adnan's lawyer Americk Sidhu where the first case management for the case was fixed yesterday.

“As the written grounds have yet to be ready, the Federal Court has fixed another case management date on June 28,” the lawyer told Malaysiakini.

It was reported on March 1 that the three-member bench had unanimously allowed the appeal by the Umno-owned daily.

Justice Rohana Yusof, who led the panel in citing the Derbyshire case in the United Kingdom, noted that the article written by Utusan referred to Adnan in his capacity as menteri besar.

She said Adnan in his suit had also stated that he was filing the suit as an elected representative and a menteri besar.

"This court ruled to allow the appeal as he (Adnan) has no locus standi (legal standing) to file the suit against the media. There is a case to strike out the suit,” she ruled.

The other judges in the panel were Court of Appeal judge Idrus Harun and then High Court judge Mary Lim, who was last month elevated as a Court of Appeal judge. Justice Idrus is former solicitor-general before being a Court of Appeal judge.

At the Federal Court, it is not automatic that an appeal is heard as it is necessary to gain leave (permission) from the bench to make sure there are merits to hear the appeal on points of law.

Adverse imputations

There are no local case laws applicable and Utusan Malaysia 's counsel M Reza Hassan had cited the Derbyshire County vs Times Newspapers Ltd case, which ruled that local authorities cannot institute legal action based on criticism.

As the case was strucked out, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Yeoh Wee Siam had closed the case .

Adnan had filed the RM15 million suit two years' ago over an article written by Utusan’s columnist Awang Selamat, titled ‘Hebat sangatkah Adnan?’ (Is Adnan that great?) over the Cameron Highlands mudslide incident.

The Pahang menteri besar complained that Awang's article had brought him adverse imputations resulting in public odium, ridicule and hate.

Adnan claimed the words in the article meant that he lacks integrity, is an MB who failed in his duties, a maligner who has overstayed his position as MB, an MB who has outlived his usefulness, and a person who is brash and arrogant and rejects any form of criticism.

Adnan is seeking an unstipulated amount of general, aggravated and exemplary damages, an apology published on the front page of Utusan, interests and costs, and other relief deemed fit by the court.

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