Federal Court Rejects Ex-AG's Appeal in Defamation Suit Against Lim Kit Siang

Malaysia's Federal Court dismisses former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali's appeal against a defamation lawsuit against DAP veteran Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang. The court upholds lower courts' judgments that Lim's comments on Apandi's involvement in the 1MDB scandal were justified and fair.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Federal Court Rejects Ex-AG's Appeal in Defamation Suit Against Lim Kit Siang

Federal Court Rejects Ex-AG's Appeal in Defamation Suit Against Lim Kit Siang

Malaysia's Federal Court has dismissed former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali's application to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision to reject his RM10 million defamation lawsuit against DAP veteran Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang. The unanimous ruling was delivered by a three-judge panel chaired by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on May 14, 2024.

Why this matters: This ruling has significant implications for freedom of speech and the ability of citizens to hold public officials accountable for their actions. It also underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in addressing high-profilecorruption scandals like 1MDB.

The defamation suit, filed by Apandi in July 2019, centered around an article published by Lim on May 6, 2019, titled "Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia's on the road to integrity." Apandi claimed that the article implied he had abused his position as Attorney General and was involved in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal.

The High Court initially dismissed Apandi's lawsuit on May 23, 2022, with Judge Datuk Azimah Omar ruling that the 1MDB issue was a matter of national interest and that Lim had successfully raised the defense of justification and fair comment. Apandi appealed the decision, but on November 2, 2023, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's judgment in favor of Lim.

In rejecting Apandi's application for leave to appeal, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun stated, "There is nothing novel which merits further review by the Federal Court. And on first impression, the application has no chance of success." The Federal Court awarded costs of RM30,000 to Lim, who was present in court for the judgment, while Apandi was absent.

The 1MDB scandal, which involved the misappropriation of billions of dollars from the state investment fund, has been a major political issue in Malaysia. Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who established 1MDB in 2009, was found guilty of corruption charges related to the scandal in July 2020 and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

The Federal Court's decision marks the end of Apandi's legal battle against Lim Kit Siang over the 1MDB remarks. The ruling affirms the lower courts' judgments that Lim's comments were justified and fair, given the significant public interest in the 1MDB financial scandal and its impact on Malaysia's political landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Malaysia's Federal Court dismisses Apandi's appeal against Lim Kit Siang in defamation suit.
  • Ruling upholds freedom of speech and accountability for public officials.
  • Suit centered around Lim's article on 1MDB scandal and Apandi's alleged involvement.
  • Federal Court awards RM30,000 in costs to Lim, marking end of Apandi's legal battle.
  • Ruling affirms lower courts' judgments that Lim's comments were justified and fair.