Gapurna and Puncak Wangi withdraw suit against author

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court struck out a defamation suit yesterday, involving property developer Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din and author Ho Chin Soon after Ho apologised for causing “unnecessary misunderstanding”.

Gapurna Sdn Bhd and Puncak Wangi Sdn Bhd — which are linked to Mohamad Salim — withdrew the suit after the author’s counsel, Ringo Low Kim Leng, read out the apology.

Ho explained that the statements published in his book titled Greater KL — The Rise of Bukit Bintang were made “purely in good faith for the better understanding of the readers who were seeking the property hotspots for investment without any other intention”.

“I am sorry for what had happened and I apologise to Datuk [Mohamad Salim]. I seek a long-term friendship and look forward to many years of your support and may Datuk forgive me and put the matter in the past,” he said, assuring that the book, printed in April last year, would not be reprinted.

“In our 23 years of business operations we have been pro-development and we would not hesitate to endorse or promote PJ Sentral (a high rise building project in Section 52 of Petaling Jaya) in our public seminars, conferences or forums as it is our belief that PJ Sentral is an excellent catalyst and a fine example of urban regeneration,” said Ho.

Ho later told reporters that he agreed to the settlement to “concentrate his time” on authoring more books in the Greater KL series.

The two companies had filed suit on April 20, seeking RM25 million each in general damages and aggravated damages as well as exemplary damages of RM1 million and an injunction preventing Ho from repeating the allegations.

The hearing started on Monday with Mohamad Salim, Gapurna managing director and former director of Puncak Wangi,  testifying as the first witness. He rejected claims that the companies secured high-rise building construction contracts in Section 52 through fraudulent dealings.

The contention was raised after online news portal Free Malaysia Today, quoting sources, reported on Dec 21 and 29, 2010 that the land was given to Puncak Wangi following intervention from former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo. The reports described the company as having an issued and paid-up capital of only RM2.

“It is also meant [to imply] that Puncak Wangi secured the contract illegally, through corrupt practices, dealings among others with one Azmin Ali, the PKR deputy president, and secured the contract with support from Pakatan Rakyat,” Mohamad Salim said in his witness statement. He pointed out that the news portal had apologised to Puncak Wangi and withdrawn the articles on Aug 30 this year.

This article is appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on 12 September, 2012.

Looking for properties to buy or rent? With >150,000 exclusive listings, including undervalued properties, from vetted Pro Agents, you can now easily find the right property on Malaysia's leading property portal EdgeProp! You can also get free past transacted data and use our proprietary Edge Reference Price tool, to make an informed purchase.