Friday March 8, 2013
Reporter can reveal sources, says counsel
KUALA LUMPUR: Disclosure of sources by a reporter is relevant in a defamation case, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing’s lawyer told the High Court.
Tiong’s counsel Prem Ramachandran submitted that a reporter cannot hide behind confidentiality in a civil dispute.
“The reporter has been given protection under Section 132 of the Evidence Act. If in the witness box, the reporter is asked to disclose his sources, nobody can make an issue of that later,” he said.
He added that there was no breach of confidentiality if the reporter disclosed his sources after being ordered by the court.
He submitted this to High Court judge Justice Lau Bee Lan over the issue of whether a journalist can reveal his sources in a defamation case.
Speaking to reporters after submissions by parties in chambers, Prem said the judge had set April 26 for clarifications and decision over the matter.
Tiong had filed an application to compel former New Straits Times reporter Joseph Sipalan to disclose his sources for the article which is the subject matter in the defamation suit filed by Tiong against former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
The article which was written by Sipalan with the heading “Chua and Tiong in cahoots?” was published in the New Sunday Times on Sept 6, 2009.
Sipalan’s counsel Bhag Singh said the judge had ordered the parties to file their replies to the submissions.
Joseph, 31, who is now a reporter with The Star, had testified that he was the writer of the article and that about seven to eight people were his sources. However, Joseph refused to reveal their identities, causing Prem to warn him that he could be cited for contempt of court and filed the application to reveal his sources.
In his sworn evidence on Jan 30, Tiong testified that in the article, Ong had accused him of conspiring with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to bring him down.
Tiong had originally filed a suit on Oct 12, 2009, against The New Straits Times Press Bhd, its group editor Datuk Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, its then reporter Joseph Sipalan and Ong. He later withdrew his claim against NSTP and the two other parties.