Journalist gets to keep source confidential, rules Federal Court

Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing lost his appeal at the Federal Court in Putrajaya today, relating to the issue of confidentiality of sources by a journalist in his defamation suit.

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A five-man bench chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Shariff unanimously dismissed his appeal and ordered him to pay costs of RM10,000 each to journalist Joseph Sipalan and former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.

He said the court (Federal Court) agreed with the Court of Appeal’s verdict that the decision of the High Court ruling that Sipalan, a former New Straits Times (NST) journalist, now with Reuters, need not disclose the identity of his source for an article he had written, was not appealable.

Raus said the High Court’s decision was made in the course of a trial thus, it did not finally dispose off the rights of a party.

The panel also included Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Datuk Zainun Ali, Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi.

Tiong obtained leave from the Federal Court on June 16, last year to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Ong’s counsel, Chan Tse Yuen told reporters that parties in the case would go back to the High Court to inform that court of the Federal Court’s decision and the High Court would fix a date to resume the hearing of the civil suit.

He said following the Federal Court’s decision, the High Court ruling that Sipalan need not disclose his sources, stood.

Lawyer Bhag Singh represented Sipalan while Porres Royan appeared for Tiong. Also representing Ong was lawyer Lee Siew Lin. – Bernama, March 7, 2016.