Mahfuz’s bid for libel appeal fails

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 25, 2019.
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PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Mahfuz Omar has failed to get leave from the Federal Court to appeal the High Court’s decision ordering him to pay former PAS leader Datuk Dr Hasan Mohamed Ali RM200,000 in a defamation suit.

Mahfuz’s lawyer Faiz Fadzil told The Edge Financial Daily that a three-member panel led by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop dismissed his client’s application yesterday and ordered Mahfuz to pay cost of RM10,000.

The High Court had in December 2015 awarded RM200,000 to Hasan, who previously served as the president of Jalur Tiga Malaysia (Jati), a non-governmental organisation, after being sacked by PAS in 2011.

Hasan had sued Mahfuz for allegedly issuing a libellous statement in a media conference in March 2012 in which the deputy minister had claimed that the then Jati president received aid from the previous Barisan Nasional government for his ceramah.

Hasan demanded general compensation, exemplary damages and an injunction barring Mahfuz from repeating the libellous words.

After a full hearing, the High Court held that Mahfuz had a mischievous intention in issuing the statement. The statement, if read as a whole, could cause Hasan to be stigmatised and deemed an insincere person and not qualified to hold a post in politics, the court ruled.

Mahfuz, a former PAS leader, is currently with Parti Amanah Negara and is the member of Parliament for Pokok Sena in Kedah.