Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Yong Teck Lee wins appeal; gets refund and costs

By Ranau Sativa

KOTA KINABALU: The Court of Appeal here today allowed with costs an appeal by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and its President Datuk Yong Teck Lee to set aside the High Court’s verdict for ordering SAPP and Yong to pay Tan Sri Harris Salleh RM1 million in damages for defamation over the “Double Six” tragedy that killed the then Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and ten others on board of a crashed Nomad aircraft on June 6, 1976.

Justice Datuk Linton Albert, who sat together with Justices Dato’ Anantham Kasinather and Dato’ Seri Zakaria Sam, unanimously allowed the appeal with RM150,000 costs to be paid to the appellant.

The court also ordered Harris, who was the respondent, to refund the entire amount which had been paid by the appellant to him within two weeks.

The High Court judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli had on February 29, 2012, ordered SAPP and Yong to pay Harris RM1 million in damages for allegedly insinuating that he (Harris) was involved in causing the “Double Six” Tragedy that killed Fuad Stephens and 10 others on board the Sabah Air plane about 37 years ago in Sembulan.

In his judgment, Abdul Rahman held that Yong had “crossed the line” when he insinuated that Harris had “blood on his hand” though, he added, there was nothing wrong for Yong to call for a re-investigation of the air crash.

He also found that the use of the words “crime” and “assassination” by Yong were defamatory to Harris and had provoked speculation that Harris knew in advance that something sinister was going to happen to the aircraft and that he had left Tun Fuad Stephens to die so that he could take over as the chief minister of Sabah.

Harris had filed the suit on June 6, 2011, against SAPP and Yong through his counsel Yunof Maringking, claiming general damages, aggravated and exemplary damages of not less than RM50 million from Yong who was named as first defendant and SAPP as the second defendant.

He is also sought an injunction to restrain the defendants, whether by themselves or their servants or employee or agents from printing and publishing further, the statements and similar libel in any form or means.

Yong was represented by counsel Datuk Simon Shim.



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