GEORGE TOWN, June 21 — The High Court here today dismissed a defamation suit filed by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng against MCA vice-president Tan Teik Cheng and the English daily, The Star.

Lim, who is also former DAP secretary-general, filed the suit in March last year over Tan’s opinion piece published in the Letter to the Editor section of The Star demanding Lim to explain himself over a claim that RM4 million from the federal treasury given to a Chinese primary school in Johor came with a condition to change its name.

Judicial Commissioner Quay Chew Soon in his decision ruled that the comment made by Tan in the opinion piece was not defamatory and ordered Lim to pay RM20,000 to Tan and RM30,000 to the newspaper in costs.

“After a full trial, I dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The statement is not defamatory. The plaintiff is a politician and a senior leader in DAP, which was participating in the Johor state election when the impugned statement was made. DAP is known to be a political adversary of MCA.

“A reasonable man would accept that politicising a Chinese primary school is what a politician, such as the plaintiff and anyone from DAP, may do under the circumstances. In fact, the plaintiff agreed that he made political speeches about DAP’s contribution to Chinese primary schools,” he said.

The judge said that it is also an agreed fact that the plaintiff, in the run-up to the Johor state election, stated that during his tenure as the Finance Minister, he had allocated RM4 million to the Chinese primary school in Johor.

“These, to my mind, are acts of politicising. There is nothing therefore in the allegation of ‘politicising’ that had the tendency to expose the plaintiff to hatred, ridicule or contempt in the mind of a reasonable man or would tend to lower him in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.

“The impugned statement, when read as a whole, is merely a call for Lim to explain the allegations which had arisen in the course of the Johor state election and which he had not denied,” he added.

Lim was represented by Simon Murali and Kok Yuen Lin; Tan by Ng Kian Nam, Tan Paik Hong, and Law Quan Wei; and The Star by Abdullah Abdul Rahman and Deanna Ternisha.


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