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Cases & Deals


Penang High Court dismisses Guan Eng’s lawsuit against Tan Teik Cheng and The Star
June 2023

Our firm successfully represented the publisher of The Star online news media in defending a defamation claim by Lim Guan Eng (LGE), the former Finance Minister and a senior leader of DAP.


LGE had sued over the publication of an article by Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, the Vice-President of MCA, which The Star published in its Letter to the Editor section. Lim Guan Eng alleged that the article had claimed that he had, as the Finance Minister, allocated a sum of RM4 million, to a Chinese primary school subject to the condition that the school changes its name and therefore, ‘politicised a Chinese primary school’. The letter to the editor was published during the Johor State Election in February 2022. In court, LGE denied imposing the condition. He also objected to the allegation of politicising the matter.


The High Court found that the allegations were not defamatory, taking into account its background facts and the fact the article called for LGE to explain the allegations which he had not previously denied despite being raised in public.


Further, the High Court held that the article was a fair comment as it was, among others, based on sufficient true facts set out in the article and those which emerged at trial, honestly made and on matters of public interest.


Finally, the High Court also upheld The Star’s defence of reportage because it was published in a fair, disinterested and neutral manner. Most significant for media practitioners, the High Court affirmed that the duty of verification did not apply in the case of the defence of reportage, unlike the defence of responsible journalism.


Counsel for The Star were Abdullah Abdul Rahman and Deanna Ternisha.

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