KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — The defamation suit filed by DAP lawmaker Yeo Bee Yin against Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos was settled today after the Umno grassroots leader tendered an apology in court for accusing her of misusing funds from a Selangor welfare foundation.
Yeo’s lawyer Datuk Sankara N. Nair confirmed that Jamal’s public apology was recorded in the High Court today as settlement of the defamation lawsuit.
“There is a general imputation in law that all persons are of good repute until otherwise proved. Reputation is therefore a valuable commodity to all.
“With today's proceedings and the public apology by Datuk Seri Jamal to my client, in respect of this appalling episode, which had cast a taint on my client's untarnished reputation, has now been indelibly removed.
“It is irrefutable that my client's character and reputation is impeccable. She is fully vindicated,” he told Malay Mail.
Today was initially scheduled to be the start of the full trial for Yeo’s defamation lawsuit against Jamal, but the public apology was recorded as settlement of the defamation lawsuit instead before it could start.
Sankara confirmed that the apology had been agreed to by both Jamal and Yeo, before it was recorded by High Court judge Datuk Rozana Ali Yusoff as settlement of the case.
Other lawyers representing Yeo today at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur are Tan Han Sam and Elyse Ng Zi Qian, while lawyers Mohammed Nasser Bin Yusof and V Mugunthan represented Jamal.
When contacted, Mugunthan confirmed to Malay Mail that the High Court had recorded the agreed terms of settlement as Jamal being required to read out the apology in public to the media, and that he gives an undertaking “not to repeat the impugned statement”.
Mugunthan confirmed that there was no order for costs or for damages to be paid by Jamal under the settlement.
Sankara confirmed that Jamal then read out the apology publicly to journalists present at the Kuala Lumpur court complex.
Malay Mail sighted a copy of the apology by Jamal written in Malay: “I, Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos, apologise for defaming YB Yeo Bee Yin previously and I now admit that YB Yeo Bee Yin is someone who is honest and transparent in managing the Skim Mesra Usia Emas funds. I wish to apologise to YB Yeo Bee Yin on my mistake. I apologise, YB Yeo Bee Yin.”
Yeo filed the suit on June 14, 2017 against Jamal, seeking RM5 million in compensation after the Sungai Besar Umno division chief made a statement accusing her of abusing Yayasan Warisan Anak Selangor (Yawas) funds.
Other than the RM5 million in general damages, Yeo had also previously in the defamation lawsuit sought for exemplary and aggravated damages, and an injunction to stop Jamal from repeating the allegations.
In the defamation lawsuit, Jamal was claimed to have made the statement on March 21, 2017, with the statement published on his own Facebook account and also several news outlets.
At the time the defamation lawsuit was filed, Yeo was Damansara Utama state assemblyman in Selangor. She was later voted in as Bakri MP in the 2018 general elections and had also held the position of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister from July 2018 to February 2020.
According to the Yawas website, it is a fund established in 2009 under the Selangor government to provide for the benefit and welfare of those born in Selangor on and from January 1, 2008 onwards.
One of the schemes under Yawas is the Skim Mesra Usia Emas which provides welfare benefits for senior citizens.
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