The Malaysian Court of Appeal has ruled on 30 August that “The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd” is entitled to claim for damages over the suspension order of its two publications by the Home Minister.
A bench of three men panel led by Justice Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh stated that the decision of the trial judge in ordering the publisher to claim for damages relating to the suspension order of those two publications was correct.
The Star reported that Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh said in their ruling, “We have reached our unanimous decision, we think that the respondent (the publisher) has passed the threshold under the law to claim for damages.”
Justice Mohd Zawawi explained that the publisher was entitled to claim for the damages under Order 53 Rule 5 of Rules of Court 2012.
The panel with the members of Justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham did not make any order as to costs and both parties would now need to refer to the Malaysian High Court for the assessment of damages.
Darryl Goon, The Edge’s lead counsel, said to reporters that the ruling would now allow his client to proceed for assessment of damages before a High Court registrar for a claim of misfeasance in public office and constitutional compensation for infringement of his client’s constitutional rights on freedom of speech and expression.
Malaysian Court blocks Home Ministry’s attempt to suspend “The Edge”
The Home Ministry, in a letter sent on 23 July to the senior managing editor of the company, Ahmad Azam Mohd Aris, said the articles on 1Malaysia Development Bhd by The Edge were detrimental to public order, security and national interest. It went on to state that failure to comply with the suspension order would cause the revocation of the publishing permits of the publications.
And on 21 September last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court revoked the Home Ministry’s three-month suspension order on The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly from 27 July last year.
High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad, the judge presiding over the case at that time, ruled that by issuing a suspension order the Home Ministry is acting irrationally and illegally. He awarded RM15,000 in costs to be paid to the publisher.
Following the revoking of the suspension order, Justice Asmabi had refused an application by the Home Minister and Home Ministry secretary-general on 13 October last year for a stay of the September 21 ruling.
Justice Asmabi judged that the minister’s decision to impose the suspension had violated natural justice and was over the powers of Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act because no particulars of the suspension were given to The Edge in the show-cause letter dated 29 June 2015.
She said, “The ban also did not comply with procedural fairness.”
She added that the Home Minister did not ascertain whether the source for The Edge’s reports on 1MDB was based on information obtained from social media, especially Sarawak Report.
Senior Federal Counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching argued that the Home Minister was well within his discretion and power under Section 6(2) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act in issuing the suspension order.
There was no evidence of malice or fraudulent intention on the part of the minister to injure the publisher, the SFC Loke said.
SFC Loke also said that the Malaysian courts have no jurisdiction to award on constitutional damages.
Goon argued that in issuing the suspension order without making inquiries whether the publisher has breached Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the minister had acted with careless concern.
“It is obvious that the suspension would cause losses and damages as both publications are sold to the public for money,” he presented.