Saturday, October 1, 2011

Facebook Comment Costs A Retiree RM100,000

A retiree has been ordered by a High Court here to pay a total of RM100,000 in damages and costs to a private automotive technology training centre where his son had studied over three defamatory postings on Facebook.

Justice Varghese George Varughese ordered Leong Yook Kong (pic), 64, to pay DeSpark Auto (Penang) Sdn Bhd RM60,000 in general damages, RM15,000 in aggravated damages and RM25,000 in costs.

He also granted the centre an injunction restraining Leong from further publishing, or causing to be published, any material in the nature of the three defamatory postings, or of similar purport or effect, in any media or howsoever.

The centre had sued Leong for defamation over three comments that the latter posted on the social networking website in November and December last year, accusing the centre of criminal and inappropriate activities.

Varughese said that in cases of libel, the burden of proof was on the plaintiff to show that the words referred to the plaintiff, that the words were published by the defendant, and that the words were capable of or had tendency to bear a defamatory meaning.

Varughese said he had examined the exact words in the three postings and found that they had allegations of fraud, criminal element, and dishonest or corrupt practice.

The judge said Leong's grouses arose when his son failed the London-based City & Guilds examination for his diploma in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, and he "went on a warpath" against the centre.

He said Leong had built up his case based on three areas of grouses that irked him – that the centre was not incorporated, that it had pre-dated and post-dated its students' portfolios, and the high failure rate of the City & Guilds exam among its students.