Wed, Oct 07, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Neil Peng to pay damages in King case

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Author Neil Peng (馮光遠) yesterday was ordered to pay NT$1 million (US$30,361) in damages and publish apologies after a Civil Court reversed an earlier decision, ruling in favor of former National Security Council secretary-general King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) in a libel suit.

The ruling can be appealed.

The ruling came after King, a long-time top aide to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), appealed a High Court decision made in March seeking NT$2 million in damages over remarks Peng made saying that King had a “special relationship” with Ma, a phrase that King said implied a “sexual relationship.”

“I cannot accept this decision, because it is far removed from my expected outcome. For sure, I will appeal this case,” Peng said.

He added that the Criminal Court and Taipei District Court’s Civil Court both ruled in his favor in earlier decisions.

“Since no new evidence was presented, I am curious about the reasons behind the judge’s decision,” Peng said. “The ruling will affect the nation’s development, as well as have ramifications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

King said this would not be the final verdict and that he would fight future litigation to highlight the difference between freedom of speech and abuse of free speech.

“Winning this appeal marks my first victory in a lawsuit since 2007. I have lost eight cases between then and now,” King said.

During a court appearance last month, King said Peng claimed in court that the phrase should be read as a “special relationship,” despite publicly urging King and Ma to “come out of the closet.”

King said Peng’s blog posts have exceeded the limits of public criticism by using “scurrilous language,” which King said has caused harm to his reputation.

Peng said in court that “King has never once earned a single vote from Taiwanese,” but had the perks and privileges at top government posts due to his relationship with Ma.

Earlier rulings said that Peng’s comments did not constitute libel.

While his wording was mean-spirited, they were not “empty slander,” they said.

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