KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 – The defamation suit filed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan against news portal Malaysiakini was amicably resolved through the mediation process at the High Court here today. Malayskini clarified that the article involved in the case, “Minister’s ‘go back to kampung’ notion draws contempt” and a video posted on its portal on Nov 6 last year did not reflect the true meaning of the statement made by the minister.
Judicial Commissioner Azizul Azmi Adnan, sitting in chambers, then recorded the consent judgment in the presence of lawyers Datuk M. Reza Hassan, representing Abdul Rahman; K. Shanmuga for Malaysiakini chief editor and Stevan Gan for Mkini Dotcom and its journalist, Geraldine Tong.
M. Reza, when met by reporters, declined to disclose in detail the terms of the settlement, but said one of them was for Malaysiakini to publish a statement of clarification on the case on its portal as soon as possible. According to the statement of clarification given to the media, Malaysiakini accepted that the Voxpop video contained only excerpts of the minister’s comments and as a consequence, the impugned publications did not give the full context of what was actually said by the minister.
Malaysiakini said the excerpts were taken from a press conference held on Nov 3, 2015 in conjunction with the World Town Planning Day. The portal said that in the press conference, the company had acknowledged that the Minister explained at length on matters concerning development of resilient cities, which was not limited to the “go back to kampung” remarks alone.
“But, it also included financial crises, rising unemployment, reduce food and water supplies and turmoil and violence in society,” said Malaysiakini. The portal also acknowledged that the minister’s response of “go back to kampung” was in direct reference to the assumption posed by the journalist, where the minister also stated that his speech given earlier gave actual context to his comments.
It said they understand that the publication had exposed the minister to ridicule and portrayed him as someone callous and uncaring of the plight of the inner city society while this is regretted. However, the portal said, Malaysiakini believed that they were simply reporting the views of members of the public when publishing the Voxpop video and the article in question.
Abdul Rahman, when met after the proceeding, said he was happy that the was resolved and thanked the court for giving the parties involved to resolve the matter. Abdul Rahman filed the suit on Jan 13 this year when he was Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister. It was over an article and video clip posted by the news portal.
Abdul Rahman, who is an Umno Supreme Council member and MP for Kota Belud, claimed that the article and a video clip published by Malaysiakini and Tong without his permission did not reflect the original content of his message and that it was edited to portray him as having instructed the urban population to return to the villages.
In his statement of claim, Abdul Rahman claimed that on Nov 6, 2015, the defendants had, with levity and malice, published or caused to be published on the www.malaysiakini.com website slanderous and false statements referring to him under the title “Minister’s ‘go back to kampung’ notion draws contempt”.
He claimed that the defamatory statements, among others, implied that he had no care for the plight of the people due to the rising cost of living, did not encourage the people to seek income in the urban centres and was insensitive to the current issues that had an impact on society.