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Four Suits Over Bersih Resolved After NSTP Makes Apology
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 (Bernama) -- Four suits over an article on Bersih 2.0 published by the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP) were resolved Wednesday after the publishing company tendered an apology in the High Court.
The suits were filed by Bersih chairman Datuk S. Ambiga and 14 Bersih 2.0 steering committee members, Merdeka Strategic Development Centre Sdn Bhd, CIJ Communication Service Sdn Bhd and Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd or Suaram against NSTP for publishing the article on Sept 21 last year.
They named NSTP and New Straits Times reporter Farrah Naz Karim as defendants.
High Court Judicial Commissioner Lee Heng Cheong recorded a consent judgement which contained an apology statement read out by counsel Ranjit Singh who acted for Ambiga and the 14 plaintiffs in open court.
Lee ordered NSTP to pay RM30,000 as legal costs for each suit, causing the company to bear RM120,000 as the entire cost for the four cases.
Reading the apology statement, Ranjit said the defendants had acknowledged that the accusations in the article were false and unfounded.
"We also acknowledge that we had no proof whatsoever to substantiate any of the said allegations and that we did not verify the information relied on with Bersih 2.0, CIJ, Suaram and Merdeka Centre," said Ranjit.
He also said there was insufficient verification to the information used to support the allegations and accordingly the defendants acknowledged that the article ought not to have been published.
"We (defendants) wish to offer our unqualified apologies to Bersih 2.0, Suaram, CIJ and Merdeka Centre for the distress and embarrassment caused by the article," said Ranjit.
He said the apology was to be published by NSTP in its NST newspaper on its third page in exactly the same manner and style within 14 days from today.
Ranjit further said NSTP had also to publish an apology on the NST Online portal on the front page as the first item under column top news.
Reading the statement, Ranjit said on Sept 21, last year, NSTP had published in its newspaper and online newsportal an article, "Plot to Destabilise Govt" with the subtitle, "Exposed: RM20mil paid to several Malaysian organisations since 2005".
Ambiga and the 14 other Bersih 2.0 steering committee members in the statement of claim said that the words in the article implied that they, or anyone of them through Bersih 2.0, were conspiring with foreign elements to destabilise or overthrow, through illegal or illegitimate means, the Government of Malaysia.