Mystery priest ‘exists’, Utusan reporter in Kit Siang’s defamation suit tells court

By Ida Lim
Malay Mail Online
September 26, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 ― An Utusan Malaysia reporter who wrote an allegedly defamatory article against DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang defended in court today the existence of a shadowy priest figure quoted in her report, despite never having met or spoken personally to the priestly person known only as “Father Augustus Chen”.

Under intense questioning from the DAP leader’s lawyer, Kasthuri K. Manimaran insisted that the mystery man known only as “Father Augustus Chen” that was mentioned in an equally mysterious booklet ― which formed the basis of her report ― was real, based on hearsay from a handful of ex-DAP members.

But the reporter admitted that she did not know the real identity of the mystery man.

“I don’t know him,” the sole witness for the Umno-controlled Malay daily’s publisher, Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad, told the court.

“I never seen him so I don’t know if he is fictitious or not,” said the 31-year-old who has been working with Utusan for two years.

Last September, Lim filed the defamation suit against Utusan Melayu for printing the article, “Kit Siang Manipulasi, Pemilihan CEC” (Kit Siang manipulated the CEC election) in Minggu Malaysia ― which he said has damaged his reputation.

The contentious article published on August 18, 2013 heavily quoted a 16-page booklet, titled “Equity Report” by “Father Augustus Chen”, which claimed irregularities and vote manipulation allegedly to place cronies of both Lim and his son, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, on the powerful CEC, among other allegations.

On August 21, Lim as the plaintiff’s first witness had testified that the allegations were a “figment of imagination” and “blatant and outright lies”, claiming that the Utusan article was part of “a plot” against him and DAP leaders.

Today, Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, questioned Kasthuri on her reason for writing the article despite knowing of his blog postings calling the booklet a “tissue of lies”.

In response, the Utusan reporter said it was because the public was interested in the contents of the booklet and the DAP CEC.

“It was public interest. I was instructed by my chief editor to write whatever is in the booklet,” she said.

She also disagreed that she had done nothing to verify whether “Father Augustus Chen” truly existed.

“No, I did speak to some of ex-DAP (members). In my interview, they did say he exists, but I could not locate or contact him. It’s not true to say that I didn’t do any homework,” Kasthuri said.

The reporter listed Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, A. David Dass, Wee Choo Keong and Jenice Lee as the former DAP members she had spoken with, when asked by Utusan’s lawyer, Mohd Izral Khairy under re-examination.

“They are all no more in the party and according to them, Father Augustus Chen is YB Kit Siang’s good friend,” she said.

She added that there was a rumour circulating that DAP advisor for life, Dr Chen Man Hin, was Father Augustus Chen, which she said she did not cite in her article.

She admitted however that she no personal knowledge of the allegations in the booklet and could not justify them, also agreeing that she would not have written the article if she did not have the booklet.

Kasthuri also confirmed that she did not contact Lim before the publication of her article, explaining that DAP leaders in the past had never answered her phone calls or responded to her text messages.

She said she was not allowed to cover DAP events, saying that she was “chased out” of a 2012 press conference at the party’s headquarters and was told that “Utusan Malaysia was not allowed and was boycotted by DAP”.

But Kasthuri, a former reporter of DAP’s official newspaper The Rocket, disagreed with Gobind’s suggestion that she had penned the allegedly defamatory article against Lim because she was “upset and angry” over the 2012 event.

“I don’t have personal vendetta. I don’t have any vendetta. I’m just doing my job as I was instructed,” she told Gobind, later telling Mohd Izral that she did “not mean to jeopardise or damage” Lim’s political career but had merely based her article on the booklet.

She disagreed with Gobind’s suggestion that she had penned the article with “malice” and intention to “destroy” Lim, also confirming during cross-examination that she had not apologised to the politician for the article.

When Mohd Izral asked her why she had not included Lim’s statements in his blog in her article, Kasthuri said that he had merely dismissed the booklet’s allegations as lies without offering an alternative account.

“Because he did not answer, he only said this is lie but he didn’t counter with his own version why it was lying,” she said.

The hearing before High Court judge Datuk Yeoh Wee Siam resumes on October 3, with Chen Man Hin expected to show up as Lim’s final witness to reply to the allegation that he is Father Augustus Chen.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 27 September 2014 - 9:37 am

    Seriously, Kashthuri K. Manimaran, 31 year old, fired from Rocket, then go work for Utusan, only two years, Does anyone need anything else to know its just plain rubbish and lies?

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Sunday, 28 September 2014 - 4:42 am

    She no worry lar, d SYSTEM will protect her n UM 1
    She was given d green light 2 write anything she liked mah
    After all, she was qualified 2 write on DAP, since she moved 2 UM fr Rocket

  3. #3 by waterfrontcoolie on Sunday, 28 September 2014 - 6:18 pm

    UM must then identify this priest!

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