GEORGE TOWN, April 30 – The High Court here yesterday ordered Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin to pay compensation of RM70,000 each to four Barisan Nasional assemblymen for defaming them in regards to the sale of Butterworth Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) land.
Judicial Commissioner Lim Chong Fong also ordered Dr Afif of PKR to pay cost of RM10,000 with interest of five per cent to the plaintiffs – Tasek Gelugor Member of Parliament Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, Telok Ayer Tawar assemblyman Datuk Jahara Hamid, Permatang Berangan assemblyman Omar Abd Hamid and Sungai Dua assemblyman Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor.
Lim said the court had found that the words uttered by the defendant at the Reformasi 2.0 rally on April 17, 2014, were defamatory of all plaintiffs. He said the court also found that the defendant’s defence for justification had failed as Afif did not provide any evidence.
In his judgement, Lim also ruled out the defence of fair comment as the words were a statement of fact and not a comment. He said besides, the court also found elements of malice as the defendant should have known about the protest on the sale of RMAF land from several articles published in local newspapers before April 17, 2014. In July 2014, Shabudin, Jahara, Omar and Muhamad Yusoff filed the defamation suit against Dr Afif, claiming that he had uttered defamatory words against them in front of all attendees at the rally which was held at Seberang Jaya expo site.
They claimed that the words “Ni TUDM Tasek Gelugor, Butterworth, Ahli Parlimen UMNO, Tiga ADUN UMNO, Ketua Pembangkang, habis jual kepada syarikat kroni TUDM Butterworth” implied that the plaintiffs had sold the Butterworth RMAF land to a crony company without going through proper sale and purchase process. They seek aggravated and exemplary damages, interest, cost and other relief deemed fit by the court. They were represented by counsel Azmer Md Saad, while Dr Afif was represented by lawyer Datuk CV Prabhakaran.