The High Court has ordered Malaysian television station TV3 to pay RM1.1 million ($278,000) in damages to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for defamation.
According to Free Malaysia Today, TV3 had reportedly claimed that Anwar was involved in the Lahad Datu intrusion in 2013, an incident in which armed men from the Philippines landed in Sabah to lay claim to the state for the former Sulu sultanate.
High Court judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim said Anwar had proven his case against TV3 “on the balance of probability”.
He added that the TV station had failed to put responsible journalism into practice when it aired the news in its Buletin Utama on Mar 2, 2013, without first seeking verification on its authenticity, wrote Bernama.
Implicating Anwar as the “mastermind” behind the Lahad Datu intrusion was malicious, said Ahmad Zaidi.
He pointed out that TV3’s CEO was adamant not to settle the suit against the station despite publisher Utusan Melayu Sdn Bhd choosing to settle the matter out of court over the same report.
“A defendant’s (TV3) witness admitted during cross-examination (in the trial) that no efforts were made to contact the plaintiff (Anwar) for verification,” he said.
“The court also found that there is malice and based on that the court allows exemplary damages.”
TV3 has since been ordered to pay Anwar RM600,000 in general damages, and RM250,000 each for exemplary and aggravated damages.
He was awarded another RM40,000 in costs.
In March 2013, Anwar filed the RM100 million lawsuit against Utusan Malaysia and TV3. The case against Utusan and its editor, Abdul Aziz Ishak, was subsequently settled in October 2016, with Utusan paying RM50,000 as agreed in the settlement.
However, a settlement between Anwar and TV3, as well as its two editors, could not be reached, which caused the case to proceed.