On 27 April 2012, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur entered judgment for a total of  MYR500,000 (£101,000)  in a defamation claim brought by Mohamad Salim against the well known journalist, R. Nadeswaran (pictured) over two posting on Twitter.  This is believed to be the first Twitter defamation claim in Malaysia.

The plaintiff, who is the managing director of Gapurna Group of companies had alleged that, on 12 July and 22 December 2010, Mr Nadeswaran published defamatory statements via his personal Twitter account.  The first tweet questioned the plaintiff’s “bumiputra” status.  The other, described him as a “land thief”.

The plaintiff said that a letter before action was sent on on 30 Dec 2010 seeking a retraction but was ignored.  A further tweet was posted on 12 Jan 2011.  This read “The land thief is trying intimidation! I love a good battle! War is now declared. I’ll take him on

As a result, a statement of claim was filed on 31 January 2011.  The plaintiff sought MYR10 million in general damages, MYR5 million in aggravated damages and MYR2 million in exemplary damages and an injunction to restrain defendant from further publishing or causing to be published any similar words  defamatory. No defence was filed by Mr Nadeswaran.

In the High Court Justice Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah granted RM300,000 general damages and RM200,000 aggravated damages.  She also granted an injunction against Nadeswaran to refrain from further publishing the defamatory statements or any similar defamatory statements.

As the defendant has served no defence he was  deemed to have admitted each and every averment as contained in the plaintiff’s statement of claim.

In considering the amount of damages and aggravated damages to be awarded , the Judge said that Mr Nadeswaran had more than 4,000 followers and any number of casual drop-ins would naturally see heavy traffic.

“The court is thus of the view that the defendant should exercise a greater degree of care over his tweets knowing full well that it could and would be seen by many.

Mr Nadewaran said he would appeal the decision.

“I intend to exhaust all my legal options, including an appeal against the decision for damages. The hearing took place without the benefit of my defence and I intend to continue to pursue the matter for my defence to be heard

The case is covered in news reports the Malaysian press.  In particular, in the “Sun Daily” and the “Star“.  There is a comment “Think before you Tweet” in the Star.

We will post the full judgment when it becomes available.