On 6 June, 2015, AirAsia Bhd filed a defamation suit against yours truly. The said defamation suit was based on the article that yours truly authored and published on 21 April 2015 in this blog, with the headline “Why Liow & MAHB encouraged AirAsia to owe RM50 million PSC/Airport Tax?”, HERE.
On 9 July, 2015, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported AirAsia had filed a defamation suit against yours truly. In the same report, AirAsia Head of Legal Legal Department En Amir Faezal Zakaria was quoted to have said:
The many misleading and defamatory statements published by Wee are intended to mislead the public and damage our reputation.” AirAsia filed a suit because our reputation has been damaged by this conduct despite efforts to correct the misinformation published about AirAsia”
In the same FMT report yours truly replied:
Any way I will never retract what I have stated in my blog and am looking forward to the day of the trial. The truth will finally prevail.” For the said FMT report in full, HERE.
After almost 3 years, the truth finally prevailed and Now Every Can Know The Truth. Please read below.
The Main Thrust Of The Defamatory Suit By AirAsia
The main thrust of the AirAsia’s defamatory suit was yours truly had alleged AirAsia owed Airport Tax / Passenger Service Charge (PSC) to Malaysia Airport Holding Bhd (MAHB)). AirAsia stated in the said suit that the allegations were not true. Therefore, yours truly had defamed the very good name of AirAsia.
In the said suit, AirAsia (the Plaintiff) was claiming against yours truly (the Defendant) that 8 out of the 13 paragraphs in the said Article, when read in its natural and ordinary meaning, were defamatory of them and carried the purported innuendoes as follows:
- AirAsia is a recurring bad paymaster and/ or debtor without any justification.
- AirAsia is directly or indirectly involved in influencing the government ministries and/ or agencies to obtain discounts through unlawful and/ or improper means.
- AirAsia had mistreated its passengers and/ or customers unfairly in not refunding the PSC which were given a huge discount.
- AirAsia had collected the PSC from its passengers without any intention of paying them to the airport operators and/ or MAHB.
- AirAsia had collected the PSC from its passengers with a view to benefit and/or otherwise profit from the collection.
- AirAsia had misappropriated the PSC collected from the no-show passengers and do not intend to refund them.
- AirAsia had arbitrarily imposed hidden charges on its passengers without reasonable grounds and/ or notice to its passengers.
- AirAsia had taken into account the PSC collected from its passengers as profit for its annual financial report.
- AirAsia is incompetent in running their operations in that despite not refunding the PSC still making losses.
10. AirAsia is unreasonable in making demands without justifications and/or capable of bullying tactics against the airport operations.
11. AirAsia is an airline company of low integrity and/or dishonest in carrying out its operations.
Paragraph 14 of AirAsia’s statement of claim in the said suit contained the above 11 purported innuendoes. Please read below the verdict / findings of the learned High Court Judge with regards to the said 11 purported innuendoes.
Testimonies From The Senior Finance Manage of MAHB and AirAsia’s Group Financial Accountant
The trial went on for 6 days.
Mr Shin Kok Leong, the Group Financial Accountant of AirAsia, had testified that the article complained of did not cause damage to AirAsia and “other payables and accruals” in the financial accounts of AirAsia include PSC and Airport Taxes.
Yours truly had subpoena the Senior Finance Manager of MAHB, Puan Zulriani Binti Zahari, to testify on the Airport Tax / PSC debts owed by AirAsia. She had testified that as from 1 January to 20 April 2015, AirAsia and its related companies namely AirAsia X, PT Indonesia (AirAsia Indonesia), Thai AirAsia Ltd, Zest Airway (AirAsia Zest) and Philippines AirAsia Inc did owe Airport Tax / PSC to MAHB.
In short, Mr Shin, the AirAsia Group Financial Accountant, had admitted in court that at the material time AirAsia did owe Airport Tax / PSC to MAHB and the said admission was subsequently confirmed by the said Senior Finance Manager of MAHB.
The Verdict of The Learned High Court Judge, Madam Justice Datuk Su Geok Yam on 6 Much 2018
This is the decision of the Court after 6 days of full trial. The Court finds that the Plaintiff has failed to discharge its burden of proving defamation against the Defendant as Plaintiff’s own witnesses agreed that no damage was done to the Plaintiff as a result of the Article. The Court finds that the Article comprises 13 sections. The Court is of the respectful view that the 8 Sections complained of when read by ordinary readers in the context of the whole Article and the circumstances in which it was published do not import the innuendoes alleged by the Plaintiff at paragraph 14.
The Court finds that, in any event, the 8 Sections complained of are true or substantially true based on the evidence of the witnesses. The Court finds that the Defendant’s opinions are based on true or substantially true facts. In addition, the Plaintiff has failed to prove there was any malice on the Defendant’s part on authoring or publishing the Article. The Court orders the Plaintiff’s Writ be dismissed with costs.
The Court had awarded cost of RM50,000.00 to be paid by AirAsia.
Yours truly is grateful to senior counsel Mr Khoo Guan Huat, and his team of lawyers, Ms Grace Teoh Wei Shan and Mr Gooi Yang Shuh, all of whom are from M/s Skrine, for the care and conduct of yours truly defence. Yours truly would also like to take this opportunity to thank them for the brilliant works done in defending this suit by AirAsia.
Please stay tuned for Part 2.