High Court throws out Chin Peng’s suit against govt

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept 30 struck out a civil suit filed by former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) secretary-general Chin Peng against the Malaysian government for alleged defamation of the disbanded organisation, which he claimed breached peace treaties signed by both parties.

Judge Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi on Sept 30 granted the government’s strike out bid, agreeing with senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh’s submission that there had been no injury to Chin Peng’s reputation as it was public knowledge and a historical fact that Chin Peng had carried out criminal acts.

The judge also noted that newspaper reports, which formed the basis of the former Communist leader’s suit, did not specifically name Chin Peng but referred to the communists in general.

Chin Peng initiated legal action following news reports published on March 21, 2005 and May 6, 2005 quoting then Deputy Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin stating that Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) would air documentaries or segments about the actions of communists.

The 85-year-old, born as Ong Boon Hua in Sitiawan, Perak, filed the suit at the Ipoh High Court on June 8, 2005 on behalf of himself and CPM members.

Chin Peng and the CPM members had also sought damages and an injunction to prevent the government or its agents from further publishing or making any slanderous statements in breach of the agreement or arrangement against them.

They were also seeking court declaration that the two treaties signed between the Malaysian government and CPM to terminate hostilities are valid, enforceable and binding on the defendant.

The two treaties are the “Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and The Communist Party of Malaya to Terminate Hostilities” and “Administrative Arrangement between the Government of Malaysia and The Communist Party of Malaya Pursuant to The Agreement to Terminate Hostilities” dated Dec 2, 1989.

In delivering his decision, Balia also ruled that Chin Peng’s suit was indeed for defamation and not breach of contract as the latter claimed.

Earlier, Chin Peng’s lead counsel Tommy Thomas argued that Chin Peng was not suing for defamation but for breach of contract that the government would not defame CPM.

“All statements should be made in the spirit of the agreement,” Thomas said, noting that the spirit was to terminate hostilities and to bring peace to the country.

Former Inspector-general of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor was on Sept 30 present in court, ready to testify on behalf of Chin Peng, before the suit was struck out.

Rahim was among the government’s representatives who had signed the two treaties with the CPM.

Chin Peng’s lawyers told reporters that they would seek instruction from their client on whether to appeal the High Court’s decision. The 85-year-old former communist leader now resides in Thailand after failing in his final bid at the Federal Court to return to Malaysia.