Ramasamy ordered to pay over RM1 million in damages to Zakir Naik

Bekas Timbalan Ketua Menteri II Pulau Pinang P. Ramasamy (kanan) membayar ganti rugi lebih RM1 juta kepada penceramah bebas, Dr. Zakir Naik - MXGraphics
DCM 11 P. Ramasamy (right) was ordered to pay more than RM 1 million to Dr Zakir Naik by the court - MX Graphics

KUALA LUMPUR — The High Court here today ordered former Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy to pay more than RM1 million in damages to independent speaker, Dr. Zakir Naik in relation to five defamatory statements.

The judge ordered Ramasamy to pay the summons within 30 days starting today.

In October and December 2019, Zakir filed two separate suits alleging Ramasamy issued five statements defaming him.

Ramasamy attended court while Zakir attended the proceedings online, through the Zoom app.

Earlier, lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, representing Zakir, told the court his client was unable to attend because he was in Nigeria for the talks until 5 November.

In her judgement, Judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz ruled that Dr Zakir had succeeded in discharging his burden on defamation while the evidence of Ramasamy was primarily untenable to negate these two suits against him.

“I take the evidence by Ramasamy in his defence with an abundance of caution. I am unpersuaded by his arguments. It is my considered view that the evidence of Ramasamy is primarily untenable to negate these two suits against him.

Personal attacks

“In my considered determination, Dr Zakir has satisfied three essential elements of the tort of defamation. Looking at the background and complete facts of the present case, the demeanour of Ramasamy in the context in which it was issued, the five statements are undoubtedly defamatory that were actuated by malice and anger on the part of Ramasamy towards Dr Zakir. 

“Those impugned statements were personal attacks angled to disparage, ridicule and lower Dr Zakir in the eyes of the general public,” she said. 

The damages include RM1 million for general damages, RM100,000 for compensatory damages, RM100,000 for aggravated damages, and RM250,000 for exemplary damages. 

The judge ordered Ramasamy to pay RM70,000 in costs to Dr Zakir.

Public apology

At the end of today’s proceedings, the judge also ordered Ramasamy to make a public apology to Zakir but Ramasamy’s counsel Razlan Hadri Zulkifli informed the court they would file an application to stay the need for the defendant to apologise to Zakir, pending their appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Dr Zakir filed the first suit against Ramasamy over the politician’s four alleged defamatory statements issued on 10 April, 2016; 1 October, 2017; 11 August, 2019; and 20 August, 2019.

On 10 April, 2016, Ramasamy was alleged to have defamed Zakir by calling him a ‘devil’ through the defendant’s Facebook posting.

Zakir, who is a Permanent Resident of this country, said Ramasamy defamed him in another statement on 1 October, 2017 via the article “Is Malaysia harbouring alleged fugitive Zakir Naik?”, published by online news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

The third allegedly defamatory statement was made on 11 August, 2019 through the article “Naik should not question the loyalty of Hindus in Malaysia”, which was also carried by FMT.

Ramasamy was also alleged to have again defamed the plaintiff through a video interview which the defendant gave to India-based media platform, India Today on 20 August, 2019.

Zakir filed a second suit over an article titled “DAP leader accuses Zakir camp of ‘faking’ Tamil Tigers revival” where the plaintiff claimed that Ramasamy had defamed him through his comments published in The Malaysian Insight on 8 November, 2019. — Malaysiaxpress

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