Raub Australian Gold Mining (RAGM) has filed a notice in the Court of Appeal to appeal against last month’s High Court decision to throw out its defamation suit against Malaysiakini.
High Court judge Rosnaini Saub had on May 23 dismissed the gold mine’s claim against Malaysiakini and three other defendants, all of whom are members of the news portal's editorial team.
Justice Rosnaini, in her decision, said RAGM had failed to prove malice on the part of Malaysiakini and ordered the company to pay RM50,000 in costs to the defendants.
The gold mine had initiated the legal action against Malaysiakini in September 2012, claiming the articles published by the news portal had damaged its reputation.
Allegations that sodium cyanide used for gold extraction was hazardous to Bukit Koman villagers living nearby were unsubstantiated, the company argued in court.
It claimed that the publication of three articles and two videos related to the company’s gold mining operations in Bukit Koman in Raub, Pahang were defamatory and malicious.
High Court judge Rosnaini in her judgment pointed out that the key aspect of Malaysiakini’s defence was the issue of public interest.
“In my opinion any matter or issue that concerns the health, wellbeing and safety of a community is always a matter of public concern, not just to that particular community but also to the general public,” she had said in her 37-page judgment.
"...The said articles and videos are matter of public concern where the public in general has the right to know the information and the defendants as media and journalists were under at least a moral duty to publish the same.”
The judge also added that Malaysiakini had not only published news reports that were deemed adverse to the gold mine, but had also published news reports that were seen to be favourable to the company.
RAGM lost a separate lawsuit
The gold mine had separately filed another lawsuit against a leader of the Bukit Koman villagers, Hue Shieh Lee, which it also lost.
High Court judge Yeoh Wee Siam ruled on May 17 that RAGM failed to prove that the statement against the gold mine made by Hue, who is vice-chairperson of Ban Cyanide Action Group (BCAC), was of malicious falsehood. The judge ordered the company to pay RM20,000 in costs to Hue.
The gold mine had also filed an appeal against this decision.
RAGM was represented by Cecil Abraham and Sunil Abraham, while lawyers James Khong and Syahredzan Johan acted on behalf of Malaysiakini.
Syahredzan said Malaysiakini will "resist the appeal at the Court of Appeal".