KUCHING: The High Court here has awarded Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas RM200,000 in damages in his defamation suit against Special Officer to the Works Minister Vernon Kedit last year.
High Court judge Ravinthran N Paramaguru also ordered Vernon, who was away in Kuala Lumpur, to pay RM40,000 in legal costs.
He also allowed an injunction to restrain Vernon or his agents or servants or whosoever from publishing or causing to be published the words complained of or any similar word defamatory of Uggah in whatsoever manner.
Uggah, who was also away on a working trip overseas, was represented by his lawyer Sim Hui Chuang. Vernon was represented by his lawyer Desmond Kho.
The proceeding was held in the judge’s chambers as the courtrooms were all occupied this morning.
A man had attempted to take pictures of the proceeding from outside the chambers’ door, but was noticed by the judge.
He was called out by Ravinthran and was ordered to delete the photos that he allegedly took. He denied taking any pictures, and was excused.
The proceeding took about an hour before the judge delivered his decision.
“Basically the judge allowed the plaintiff’s (Uggah) claim and found that the defendant (Vernon) is liable, and ordered the defendant to pay damages of RM200,000 and legal cost of RM40,000, and also granted an injunction to my client,” Sim told reporters after the proceeding.
Sitting in for Uggah, PBB deputy secretary-general Datuk Ibrahim Baki confirmed Sim’s statement and said he would be conveying the news to Uggah.
Meanwhile, Kho said his client Vernon was away in Kuala Lumpur assuming his duties as the Special Officer to the Works Minister Baru Bian.
“I shall be seeking the instruction of my client on whether or not to proceed with an appeal because every high court decision is open to appeal. That decision has to be made by my client, I cannot be making it on his behalf,” he said.
Uggah had suit Vernon for calling him a “liar” and a “traitor”, which Uggah claimed were highly defamatory and published widely via the ‘PKR Sarawak State Media’ WhatsApp chat group late last year.
Vernon had made the remarks when commenting on the alleged imperfection of the amended Sarawak Land Code, particularly on the mechanism(s) to convert native customary rights (NCR) land to Native Territorial Domain (NTD).
Vernon had claimed that Uggah was “lying” when he interpreted that usufructuary right as a right that one can own and also use, which Uggah had vehemently denied.