Khalid, NSTP reach settlement on RUU 355 defamation suit

Khairah N. Karim

KUALA LUMPUR: A settlement has been reached in the defamation suit filed by Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad against the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP), Berita Harian then-group editor Datuk Mahfar Ali and two of the daily’s journalists.

The suit was filed over an article on a statement made by Khalid regarding proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) 1965, also known as RUU 355.

Judicial commissioner Datuk Aliza Sulaiman recorded the consent judgment in chambers today after both parties agreed to the terms of the settlement.

In the consent judgement, defendants NSTP, Mahfar, journalists Hazwan Faisal Mohamad and Rohainiza Idris agreed to pay RM60,000 to Khalid within 30 days.

The defendants will also publish an exclusive interview with Khalid allowing him to explain his real views on RUU 355.

Khalid was represented by lawyer Muhammad Faiz Fadzil, while the three defendants were represented by lawyer Datuk M Reza Hassan.

In February, last year, Khalid filed the suit alleging that there was malice in Berita Harian’s report entitled “Selepas 20 tahun terhalang, rang undang-undang mahkamah Syariah akhirnya bentang di Parlimen, Kerajaan beri Pas laluan, DAP, Amanah Bantah” published on May 27, 2016.

In his statement of claim, Khalid, who was Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) communications director at the time, claimed that the article in its natural and ordinary meaning and innuendo declared that he and Amanah shared the same view as DAP in their opposition to the Bill.

He also claimed that Berita Harian’s group editor and reporters failed to practice responsible journalism, as they did not verify the statement.

When met outside the court, Khalid said he did not object to the tabling of the law but rather, wanted it to be debated. However, the report had painted him as having the same view as DAP in opposing the Bill.

“The report was as if I was in the same (camp as) DAP. I was not opposing (RUU 355 per se). Our views are different.

“I hope that the press will be more responsible in reporting news and not sensationalise. Spinning an issue is an irresponsible act,” he added. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd