Thursday, September 15, 2011
Malaysian Tourism Minister, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen
Zecha (left) outside the High Court
Advertising agency director Austen Victor Lauw Zecha expressed his sincere regret to Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen in open court for making defamatory statements against her.
The statement of apology was read out by his lead counsel T.H. Liew in a packed courtroom in the presence of Dr Ng, her family members, supporters and staff on Thursday, 15th September, 2011, a day before Malaysia Day which falls on 16th September 1963.
Dr Ng, who was dressed in a blue baju kebaya, sat beside the dock and listened attentively.
Liew said Zecha, 71, acknowledged that the allegations were unfounded and unreservedly withdrew them.
Zecha is a director of advertising agency TBWA-ISC Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Integrated Strategic Communications Sdn Bhd (ISC).
Dr Ng had sued Zecha for giving a radio interview on March 18 2011, in the presence of one Noelle Lim, that was defamatory to her.
In her lawsuit filed on April 14, 2011, Dr Ng said the words uttered by Zecha during the interview implied that she, through her agent, solicited a bribe to ensure that the defendant and/or ISC were awarded an advertising contract for which there was a pending public tender.
Liew said Zecha apologised to Dr Ng for the distress and embarrassment caused to her.
“The defendant (Zecha) apologises for having reacted the way he did when there was no basis to conclude that a person was acting on the minister’s behalf concerning ISC’s recent tender for Tourism Malaysia’s current three-year contract,” he said.
Dr Ng’s lead counsel Sunil Abraham said Zecha had agreed to publish a one-page statement of apology in Nanyang Siang Pau within 48 hours from the date of the order.
Zecha had also agreed to apologise on the radio station BFM89.9 Current Affairs programme and pay an undisclosed amount of damages to Dr Ng in a final settlement.
High Court judge Justice V.T. Singham recorded the consent settlement.
Outside the courtroom, Dr Ng smiled and handed out a media statement saying that she was pleased with the outcome.
She hoped the settlement would help instil confidence that the ministry was transparent in its dealings.