TV3 ordered to pay RM1.1m for defaming Anwar

By BERNAMA / Graphic By TMR

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday ordered local television station TV3 to pay RM1.1 million to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for linking him as one of the masterminds of the Lahad Datu intrusion that happened in Sabah five years ago.

Justice Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim made the ruling after allowing Anwar’s suit against TV3 for disparaging him in its Buletin Utama based on an article published by Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd under the heading, “Tiga kumpulan menjadi dalang” dated March 2, 2013.

The court ordered TV3 to pay general damages of RM600,000, aggravated damages of RM250,000, exemplary damages of RM250,000 and costs of RM40,000.

The judge held that TV3 — as the second defendant — failed to practise responsible journalism in not getting a confirmation from Anwar before relaying the news.

“According to the defendant’s witness, they reported the news based on an article from Utusan Malaysia, but the newspaper has admitted that the article was false and defamatory to the plaintiff.

“However, TV3 was adamant and did not make any settlement with the plaintiff,” he said.

After considering the circumstances of the case, the judge found that the news report did implicate the plaintiff and said the RM600,000 general damages was reasonable.

“There is malice in the news report, and it could be seen from the action of the TV3 CEO — even though Utusan Malaysia had already admitted that the news was false, TV3 was still adamant.

“Based on that, the court allows claims for aggravated and exemplary damages of RM250,000 respectively,” he said.

On March 8, 2013, Anwar sued Utusan Melayu; Utusan group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak; TV3; Media Prima Bhd news and current affairs, Radio and Television Network group managing editor Datuk Shaharudin Abd Latif; and Buletin Utama news editor Ing Boon Seng.

The former Permatang Pauh MP and Opposition leader, in his statement of claim, referred to an article published by Utusan Melayu in its front page headlined, “Ketua Pembangkang dikaitkan dengan pencerobohan?” and another in page nine, “Tiga kumpulan menjadi dalang” dated March 2, 2013.

Anwar had also alleged that TV3 on the same day — between 8pm and 9pm — in Buletin Utama broadcasted news on the intrusion in Lahad Datu based on the news report published by Utusan Melayu.

On Oct 5, 2016, he reached an agreement with Utusan Melayu and its editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak to settle the case.

Anwar was represented by counsel Datuk S Ambiga while TV3’s lawyer was Lim Qi Si.