Defamation suit: Court orders Tajuddin to pay costs of RM120,000 to Khalid and KiniTV

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal has ordered former Pasir Salak Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (picture) to pay costs totalling RM120,000 to former Shah Alam MP Khalid Abd Samad and KiniTV Sdn Bhd.

Khalid and KiniTV had obtained leave to pursue their appeals to seek costs from Tajuddin whose defamation lawsuit was dismissed by the High Court.

A three-member bench comprising Court of Appeal judges Datuk S. Nantha Balan, Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali and Datuk Dr Choo Kah Sing, in a unanimous decision, ordered Tajuddin to pay RM60,000 in costs each to Khalid and KiniTV.

“The global costs include the costs of the High Court trial, leave to appeal before the Court of Appeal and for today’s proceedings,” said Justice Nantha Balan, when setting aside the High Court’s decision in not awarding costs to Khalid and KiniTV.

He said the lower court judge had departed from the general practice by not awarding costs to the defendants (Khalid and KiniTV) after they had succeeded in defending their case.

“The lower court judge had done this on her own volition without giving an opportunity for parties to submit on cost. The only ground, as the lower court judge said,  it is a public interest case. The law is clear and it was a trite position that costs ought to be awarded,” he said.

Justice Nantha Balan questioned if this was indeed a case of public interest just because both were MPs and a media statement was made in the lobby.

“I think that doesn’t make it a public interest case but the public may be interested in that matter,” he said, adding Khalid and KiniTV were entitled to cost because there was a lot of work involved because the suit was filed in Feb 2017 and the trial went on from 2019 to 2021. 

In today’s proceedings, counsel Datuk S.N. Nair and K. Shanmuga, appeared for Khalid and KiniTV, respectively, while Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican, represented Tajuddin.

On Feb 22, 2022, the High Court dismissed Tajuddin’s suit against Khalid, KiniTV and NSTP without cost. 

Tajuddin filed the suit on April 26, 2017, claiming that Khalid had allegedly uttered defamatory statements, as well as used curse words, against him at two media conferences held by Khalid at the Parliament Lobby on Nov 21 and 24, 2016.

He claimed that Khalid’s first statement was published in NSTP’s newspaper, the New Straits Times, with the title ‘Fury over Deputy Minister’s Remark’ on Nov 22, 2016, and the second statement by KiniTV on Nov 24, 2016. He claimed both the statements were also available on YouTube, which could be accessed by the public.

Tajuddin also claimed that the two statements, among others, meant that he was not fit to be an MP and had acted against the teachings and culture of Islam.BERNAMA / pic TMR FILE