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Ramasamy has paid RM1.52 mil to Zakir Naik for defaming the preacher

Publish date: Fri, 01 Dec 2023, 01:11 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 1): Former Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy has paid RM1.52 million in damages and costs for defaming controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

Zakir’s lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader said on Friday that the full sum was transferred to the solicitors’ account on Nov 17, following the High Court’s decision early last month.

On Nov 2, High Court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz found that the preacher had discharged his burden in proving the tort of defamation and that Ramasamy’s defence was without merit and untenable.  

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She also said that Ramasamy could not prove “the truth or appropriately justify” the publication of his five statements made between 2016 to 2019, which had defamed Zakir.

The judge then ordered Ramasamy to pay RM1 million in general damages, RM100,000 in compensatory damages, RM100,000 in aggravated damages and RM250,000 in exemplary damages in total for all five statements. Hayatul also ordered the payment of costs of RM70,000.

While the former DAP politician is appealing the decision, he had also raised the quantum through crowdfunding. It was reported that he reached the target within a week.

On Nov 2, the High Court had also granted a stay to Ramasamy on issuing an apology to Zakir, as his lawyers sought to argue on whether the court has jurisdiction to order an apology after a defamation case.

Parties were to submit on this on Friday, however Ramasamy’s counsel Razlan Hadri Zulkifli informed the court that both parties have come to somewhat of a “compromise” and that they are withdrawing their stay application.

“Parties have come to some sort of compromise. We would like to withdraw both enclosures with no order as to cost,” he told the court.

Speaking to the press after the brief proceedings, Razlan said that the terms of the withdrawal are confidential and remained tip-lipped on whether his client will issue an apology to the preacher.

Zakir had filed two separate suits - in October and December 2019 - against Ramasamy, in alleging defamatory statements had been uttered against him. Both suits were heard together.

The India-born preacher and a Malaysian permanent resident’s first suit against Ramasamy pertains to four alleged defamatory statements issued between 2016 and 2019, which he claims insinuated that he was not an honest Muslim preacher in propagating the teachings of Islam, and that he had committed offences in other countries.

In the other suit, Zakir sued Ramasamy in 2019 over statements linking him to the arrest of 12 individuals with alleged ties to the defunct Sri Lankan separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Zakir claimed that the statements insinuated that he had manipulated and lobbied the Malaysian authorities for his own benefit or advantage.

Among others, Zakir sought aggravated, exemplary damages, and a mandatory and permanent order preventing Ramasamy from publishing any defamatory statement against him.

Ramasamy mounted a defence of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege, as his statements involved public concern and interest.

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