KUALA LUMPUR — August 21, 2019: The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) has lost its suit against a journalist over an allegation of personal enrichment regarding a course in Germany two years ago.
Journalist Veera Pandiyan, a columnist with The Star, won his case today after magistrate Nur Syuhada Abdullah ruled that the HRDF had failed to prove its case on the balance of probabilities, which is basically the standard of proof used in a civil trial in which one party’s case needs only to be more probable than the other.
“Vindicated at last! The court just dismissed HRDF’s ridiculous suit against me with costs. Hope this helps deflate the ego of the person who initiated it, obviously out of bad faith and malice,” wrote Pandiyan in Facebook.
Pandiyan got caught in the tangle for allegedly misrepresenting himself to qualify for the course in Berlin in 2017 which was sponsored by the agency under the Human Resource Ministry.
He was slapped with the suit following a commentary by journalist R. Nadeswaran in Malaysiakini on June 12 last year, alleging “massive stealing from HRDF”. The Berlin trip was implied to be one such theft.
Sixteen days after the commentary was published, Nadeswaran was appointed to HRDF’s governance oversight committee. Nadeswaran, who was tasked to probe the matter, is now with HRDF’s compliance unit.
During last month’s trial, HRDF wanted Pandiyan to reimburse the RM53,000 spent to send him to Berlin — the amount it paid to organiser K-Pintar Sdn. Bhd.
Acting as the plaintiff’s witness, Nadeswaran said Pandiyan had masqueraded as an editor of the National Press Club by forging a letter signed by then NPC executive director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
Nadeswaran, a former journalist with The Sun, claimed to have known about the forgery after meeting Wong but said he did not lodge a police report.
Pandiyan denied forging the letter, saying that he attended the course courtesy of a complementary arrangement that K-Pintar had with the NPC, in which the company would bear the cost of two NPC members for the trip in exchange for the club’s assistance in gathering journalists and editors.
Besides Pandiyan, HRDF also sued Malaysiakini columnist M. Krishnamoorthy over similar charges but had earlier this month withdrawn the suit and offered Krishnamoorthy a fixed cost of RM925.