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Media Prima’s TV3 ordered to pay Anwar Ibrahim RM1.1m for defamatory news report

Malaysia’s High Court has ordered Media Prima’s TV3 to pay RM1.1 million in damages to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, after ruling that one of the TV station’s news reports had defamed him five years ago.

The report linked Anwar Ibrahim to the Lahad Datu intrusion in Sabah, multiple media reports on outlets including The Star, the New Straits Times and Bernama stated. The 2013 Lahad Datu standoff was a military conflict that arose, which saw approximately 200 militants from a Philippines clan lay seige to Sabah’s Lahad Datu district.

TV3 was ordered to pay general damages of RM600,000, aggravated and exemplary damages of RM250,000 each, as well as costs of RM40,000. TV3 was described by Judge Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim as having “failed to practice responsible journalism”, when no verification was sought on the legitimacy of the news report before airing it on Buletin Utama on 2 March 2013. Malice on the TV station’s part was also found by the High Court, as it broadcasted the news solely based on a report by Malay-language newspaper Utusan Melayu.

Utusan has since admitted that the news report was “false” and “defamatory” to Anwar Ibrahim and settled the case on 5 October 2016. Despite this, TV3’s CEO Johan Ishak was “adamant” to not settle the suit, multiple media reports said.

Besides TV3 and Utusan, Anwar Ibrahim also filed a suit on 8 March 2013 against Media Prima Television and Radio Networks, News and Current Affairs’ group managing editor Datuk Shaharudin Abd Latif, Buletin Utama news editor Ing Boon Seng and Utusan Group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak.

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