1. Mediacorp News Pte Ltd&3lagi V 1. Mediabanc (Johor Bharu) Sdn Bhd (548090-V) & 4lagi

  

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF MALAYA AT KUALA LUMPUR

 

(COMMERCIAL DIVISION) SUIT NO: D-22(IP)-763-2007

 

In the matter of an Injunction Order dated 27.11.2007;

 

And

 

In the matter of Order 52 rule 1, 2, 3, and Order 45 rule 1 and 5 of the Rules of the High Court 1980

 

And

 

In the matter of Order 8 of the Rules of the High Court 1980;

 

And

 

In the matter of Application by the Plaintiffs/applicants against Lim Leong Wouh, Quee Chan, Sum Ai Kin and Ivan Chong as the officer and director of the Defendants/Rospondents for an order for contempt

 

BETWEEN

 

1. MediaCorp News Pte Ltd

 

2. MediaCorp Radio Singapore Pte Ltd

 

3. MediaCorp TV Singapore Pte Ltd

 

4. MediaCorp Pte Ltd .. Plaintiffs/Applicants

 

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AND

 

1. MediaBanc (Johor Bharu) Sdn Bhd (548090-V)

 

2. MediaBank (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (436266-H)

 

3. Media Banc Group Sdn Bhd (551724-M)

 

4. MediaBanc Research Sdn Bhd (462515-X)

 

5. MBI Library Group Sdn Bhd (540970-T) … Defendants/Respondents

 

1. LIM LEONG WUOH (640103-08-5197)

 

2. QUEE CHAN (660213-01-6043)

 

3. SUM AI KIN (711031-05-5284)

 

4. IVAN CHONG .Proposed Contempt Parties

 

JUDGMENT

 

Enclosure 24 is the Applicants’ Notice of Motion for an order to, inter alia, commit Lim Leong Wuoh and Sum Ai Kin, the first and the third Proposed Contempt Parties respectively (collectively referred to as the Proposed Contempt Parties) to prison for contempt in aiding and abetting the first to the fifth Defendants (collectively referred to as the MediaBanc Group), in disobeying an injunction order dated 27.11.2007.

 

The first to the fourth Applicants form part of the MediaCorp group of companies (the MediaCorp Group) which is the leading media and broadcasting group of companies in Asia and more particularly in Singapore. The MediaBanc Group is an integrated

 

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print, radio and television monitoring agencies. The Proposed Contempt Parties are the director of MediaBanc (Johor Bharu) Sdn. Bhd (the first Defendant).

 

I have read in detail the Applicants’ Statement Pursuant to Order 52 Rule 2(2) of the Rules of High Court 1980 (the RHC), the Applicants’ affidavit in support for leave for committal proceeding date 23.7.2009, the Notice of Motion for orders of committal, the Proposed Contempt Parties’ affidavit-in-reply dated 18.9.2009 and the Applicants’ affidavit-in-reply dated 14.10.2009.

 

In my view the critical issue for determination in this committal proceeding is whether the Proposed Contempt Parties had willfully or deliberately disobeying or disregarding the order of the court.

 

I should note at once that it is settled law that in order to sustain a conviction in contempt proceedings, the standard of proof required is one beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Applicants to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person asked to be committed, namely the Proposed Contempt Parties had willfully, deliberately disobeying, or disregarding the order of the court. The authority to support this proposition is to be found in the judgment of Lee Hun Hoe CJ

 

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(Borneo) in T.O. Thomas v Asia Fishing Industry PTE. LTD

 

[1977] 1 MLJ 151. There, His Lordship had this to say at page 155 of the report:

 

Willfully, disobeying an order of the court constituted contempt. This commonly consists in a party’s doing otherwise than he is enjoined to do, or not doing what he is commanded or required to do by the process, order or decree of the court: Miller v. Knox. The contempt must be willful. An order to court must have been contumaciously disregarded. It is no good if it is casual, accidental and unintentional. Fairclough &Sons v. Manchester Ship Canal Co. (No. 2).

 

Most important of all, in Re Bramblevale Ltd [1970] Ch 128 Lord Denning MR said at page 137:

 

A contempt of court is an offence of a criminal character.

 

A man may be sent to prison for it. It must be satisfactorily proved. To use the time-honoured phrase, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

 

In this very context, it must be emphasized that the charge against the Proposed Contempt Parties is for aiding and abetting

 

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the MediaBanc Group in reproducing or copying the news programmes belonging to MediaCorp Group for the proposes of selling or distributing the same in the course of business, notwithstanding the injunction order by:

 

(i) selling clips of television news broadcasts headline

 

“SCDF buys state-of-the art digital camera to help investigations” aired on 17.3.2009 – 20.3.2009 at

 

various times on Channel 8, Channel News Asia, amongst others;

 

(ii) Selling clips of television news broadcasts, headlined “Sports Council calls for tenders to build permanent racing track” aired on 31.3.2009 at various time on the same channels.

 

It must be kept in mind that according to the Applicants, it is one Ivan Chong who was actively involved in the wrongful and infringing acts of MediaBanc Group. Order for committal was initially sought against him. In fact, he was identified as the fourth Proposed Contempt Party. However, this court did not grant leave to proceed with the committal proceedings against Ivan Chong for the reason that there was no evidence to show he had notice of each of the terms of the injunction order.

 

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It is therefore clear that the charge against the Proposed Contempt Parties is not for the principal offence of contempt, but instead for aiding and abetting. This must be emphasized, as the Applicants’ case seems to be that Ivan Chong is the main perpetrator of the alleged contempt. Ivan Chong was the Assistant Country Manager, whose job was also to oversee the running of the day-to-day operations of the first Defendant.

 

In view of the above, the question therefore arises whether the Proposed Contempt Parties conspired or directed Ivan Chong to breach the injunction order.

 

Having read in detail the various affidavits filed by the Applicants and the Applicants’ statement pursuant to Order 52 Rule 2(2) of the RHC, I did not see any evidence to the effect that the Proposed Contempt Parties had instigated, aided or abetted Ivan Chong or MediaBanc Group to breach the injunction order.

 

On the contrary, the first Proposed Contempt Party in his affidavit explained that as soon as the injunction order was granted, the first Defendant had revised the Standard Operating Procedures (the SOP) to ensure that their operations complied with the said order. To the best knowledge of the first Proposed Contempt Party, those revised SOP were still in force in 2009, despite the

 

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resignation of the first Defendant’s Chief Operating Officer and Country Manager in 2008. He added that this was borne out by the fact that between 2007 and March / May 2009, the Applicants had no cause to complain about any breach. The first Proposed Contempt Party emphasized the point that as soon as he heard about the Applicants’ ex-parte application to institute committal proceedings, he immediately traveled to the first Defendant’s office to find the underlying cause of the matter. According to him, the investigation revealed that the deviation in the SOP, which had been arrived at by Ivan Chong, was an unauthorized, but honest, interpretation of the order.

 

I should mention here that MediaBanc Group, through the first Proposed Contempt Party’s affidavit had apologized to the court for this occurrence.

 

Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, in my view, no evidence was adduced by way of affidavit evidence to prove that the Proposed Contempt Parties knowingly aided or abetted Ivan Chong in the commission of the contemptuous act. Taken as a whole, to my mind, by any standard, the conduct of the Proposed Contempt Parties falls far short of willfully or deliberately disregarding the order of the court.

 

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It is for all these reasons, the Applicants’ Motion for committal

 

against the Proposed Contempt Parties is dismissed with costs.

 

(DATO’ AZAHAR BIN MOHAMED) Judge of High Court Kuala Lumpur.

 

27 April 2010

 

Counsel for the Applicants: Ms Celine Chelladurai (with her

 

Ms Seira Sacha Abu Bakar)

 

Solicitors for the Applicants: ZaidIbrahim & Co

 

Counsel for the proposed contempt parties: Mr Benjamin hompson

 

Solicitors for the proposed contempt parties: Messrs Thompson

 

Associates

 

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