Novelist retains $19,000 in damages against former aide

KUALA LUMPUR - Novelist Siti Rosmizah Semail will get RM50,000 (S$18,850) in damages from her former personal assistant over nine defamatory postings in the aide's Facebook account.

Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera dismissed an application by Asmaliyana Ahmad to set aside a judgment in default (JID) granted by the court in favour of the novelist on Aug 4.

There is no order as to costs, said the novelist's lawyer, Harjinder Singh Sandhu, after the matter was heard in chambers yesterday.

Lawyer Hussin Mohd Razak appeared for Asmaliyana, 24, who is Siti Rosmizah's sister-in-law.

Speaking to reporters later, Harjinder said the court allowed the JID as the defendant had filed her memorandum of appearance for the suit on March 6 without getting leave from the court.

"The memorandum of appearance was filed by the defendant out of time (not filed within the stipulated period)," said Harjinder.

The lawyer said the court had, on Oct 21, awarded Siti Rosmizah RM50,000 in general damages and another RM10,000 in costs over the libel suit.

Siti Rosmizah, 42, had filed a RM3mil suit against Asmaliyana over the former assistant's Facebook postings between April 21 last year and July 24 last year.

The novelist, on Dec 18 last year, applied for an apology and an injunction to stop Asmaliyana from publishing libellous statements against her.

She sought for RM1.5mil in general damages for loss of reputation and another RM1.5mil in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.

In her statement of claim, she said she was awarded a readers' choice award, the Anugerah Pilihan Pembaca Popular Berita Harian 2009".

Siti Rosmizah, 42, also claimed she is a book publisher, a director of a publishing company, and a lawyer.

She said her reputation and dignity has been badly affected due to those postings and that she suffered loss of income as she did not receive any more invitations from publication institutions to give talks on novel writings.