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High Court Malaya, Kuala Lumpur
Rosilah Yop JC
[Suit No: 23NCVC-37-03-2013]
19 February 2014

Tort: Defamation - Libel - Plaintiff claimed against defendant for defaming him through statements published in defendant's website - Whether statements defamatory of plaintiff - Whether defamatory statements referred to plaintiff - Whether there was publication of defamatory statements - Whether defendant's defence of qualified privileged, fair comment and justification proved

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant, who was the owner and operator of a website/blog with the URL www.papagomo.com and known as 'Papa Gomo' had defamed the plaintiff through statements in articles published in the defendant's website. The said articles were as follows: (i) 'BREAKING NEWS - Video Seks Anwar Ibrahim dan Gay Tersebar'; (ii) 'XXX - Video Anwar Ibrahim'; (iii) 'Saman Homoseksual RM100 Juta - Permohonan Maaf Papa Gomo Kepada Anwar Ibrahim'. The said articles were alleged to contain defamatory statements ('the statements'). The plaintiff claimed that the defendant had willfully and maliciously published the statements with the intention to discredit the plaintiff to show that he was an immoral person, not dignified, ineligible to hold public office, ineligible to become political leader, not fit to be Prime Minister and a leader who was not responsible and could not be trusted. The plaintiff, through his solicitor, had demanded the defendant to retract the statements, apologise and pay compensation but the defendant had failed to do so. The defendant denied that he was the owner of the said website and denied publishing the articles. He further raised the defence of qualified privileged, fair comment and justification.

Held (allowing the plaintiff's claim):

(1) The statements attacked the plaintiff's moral character and had exposed the plaintiff to hatred, ridicule or contempt in the mind of a reasonable reader and would tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking society generally. Hence, the statements were defamatory of the plaintiff. (paras 24-25)

(2) The statements referred to the plaintiff personally by name. It also referred to his wife's and daughter's names. Readers generally know who the plaintiff, his wife and daughter were. The plaintiff was a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and the leader of the opposition party in Parliament and Malaysian readers know the plaintiff. The website or blog was specially made to defame the plaintiff and the statements (inclusive of videos) expressly referred to the plaintiff. The words in the articles which referred to the videos also referred to the plaintiff. The statements directed at the plaintiff were too obnoxious and obscene and the words used were too extreme in defaming the plaintiff. Any reasonable reader reading the statements published on the website or blog, knew the statements referred to the plaintiff. (paras 30-32)

(3) The statements were published in the website www.papagomo.com, ie in the internet and people all over the world could get access to the website. Hence, there was a wide publication of the statements. It was held to be a judicial notice that the internet was used worldwide. Thus, there was no doubt that the online statements published on the internet amounted to publication. (paras 46-48)

(4) The defendant in his evidence merely denied that he was the owner of the blog and did not publish the statements. The defendant failed to bring any witnesses or documentary evidence to prove his defence. In contrast, the plaintiff had proved that the defendant was the person named Papa Gomo who had published the statements. (para 71)

(5) The defendant had not proved the defence of qualified privilege. The element of reciprocity was completely absent and the defendant was not the person who had the interest or duty, legal, social or normal to make the statements. (para 71)

(6) There was no evidence to prove that the statements were true or a fair comment on a matter of public interest. It was also not proven that the statements were matters of public interest. (paras 76-77)

(7) There was nothing that was capable of establishing that the allegations made by the defendant against the plaintiff were true. In fact, there was no evidence adduced to establish the same. The defendant had thus failed to prove his defence of justification against the plaintiff for defamation. (paras 80-81)

Case(s) referred to:

Abdul Rahman Talib v. Seenivasagam & Anor [1966] 1 MLRA 595; [1965] 1 MLJ 42 (refd)

Abduk Razak bin Mohd Noor v. Wan Muhammad Azri bin Wan Deris [2013] MLRHU 1230, Writ Summon No: 23NCVC-17-01-2012 (unreported) (refd)

Adam v. Ward [1917] AC 309 (refd)

Ayob Saud v. TS Sambanthamurthi [1988] 1 MLRH 653; [1989] 1 MLJ 315; [1989] 1 CLJ 321 (refd)

Chin Choon v. Chua Jui Meng [2004] 2 MLRA 636; [2005] 3 MLJ 494; [2005] 2 CLJ 569; [2005] 3 AMR 189 (refd)

Hoe Thean Sun & Anor v. Lim Tee Keng [1998] 3 MLRH 200; [1999] 3 MLJ 138; [1999] 1 CLJ 187; [1999] 1 AMR 245 (refd)

International Times & Ors v. Leong Ho Yuen [1980] 1 MLRA 438; [1980] 2 MLJ 86 (refd)

JB Jeyaretnam v. Goh Chok Tong [1984] 2 MLRH 122; [1985] 1 MLJ 334 (refd)

Knupffer v. London Express Newspaper Ltd [1944] AC 116 (refd)

Morgan v. Odhams Press Ltd & Another [1971] 2 All ER 1156 (refd)

S Pakianathan v. Jenni Ibrahim & Another Case [1988] 1 MLRA 110; [1988] 2 MLJ 173; [1988] 1 CLJ 233 (refd)

Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul-Rahman Ya'kub v. Bre Sdn Bhd & Ors [1995] 4 MLRH 877; [1996] 1 MLJ 393 (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Defamation Act 1957, s 9

Evidence Act 1950, s 114(g)

Other(s) referred to:

Price & Doudu, Defamation Law, Procedure and Practice, 3rd edn, p 208

Gatley on Libel and Slander, 1998, 9th edn, p 7


For the plaintiff: N Surendran (Latheefa Koya with him); M/s Daim & Gamany

For the defendant: Jasbeer Singh (Parvinder Kaur, Vivekananda Sukumaran, Syamsul Azhar with him/her); M/s Jasbeer Nur & Lee

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