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Invitation by Shell to a Malaysian jail cell

Article by Alfred Donovan

By June 2006 Shell Malaysia legal boss, Thavakumar Kandiah Pillai (right), had got himself into a most dreadful mess.

Two years earlier he had advised EIGHT different companies, all within the Royal Dutch Shell Group, to bring a collective defamation action against a former Shell Malaysia Production Geologist, Dr John Huong. The action was in respect of information published on an earlier version of this website, which I jointly own and operate with my son, John Donovan.

After reading the Thavakumar Kandiah Pillai Affidavit and related High Court Writ, both issued in June 2004, I immediately notified the Judge and Shell that they were suing the wrong party. So they all knew within days of issuing Draconian proceedings, that Shell had no legitimate grounds on which to pursue the action against Dr Huong.

Despite that knowledge, Shell begun a long campaign to terrorise him into accepting blame for something he did not do. He had  never published a single allegation against Shell. We prepared, edited and published articles based on information supplied to us by Dr Huong (and other Shell Malaysia current or former employees) by email and in numerous telephone conversations. We had also received leaked Shell internal emails.

Thavakumar Kandiah Pillai was not interested in the truth. He was determined to persecute Dr Huong.

It was now June 2006. I had recently supplied a sworn Affidavit setting out the truth.

In response, Thavakumar provided his own Affidavit to the High Court demanding my presence in Malaysia for cross-examination in relation to my Affidavit, despite knowing that I was 89 years old.

In a related High Court Summons, Shell demanded that my Affidavit be “expunged from the record” if I did not appear in the Malaysian court for cross-examination.

It was, however, obvious from the content of his Affidavit that Thavakumar was desperate to put me off from actually making the trip. He knew that if I did do so, it would almost certainly demolish Shell’s entire case against Dr Huong, resulting in a huge loss of face for Shell Malaysia management and Thavakumar Kandiah Pillai. So he was in a real fix.

This explains the allegations in his Affidavit, which if accepted by the Judge, woud undoubtedly have led to my immediate imprisioment in Malaysia under a throughly corrupt dicatorship regime in bed with Shell for decades.  The same Affidavit contained reference to contempt proceedings which were already in progess against Dr Huong (seeking his imprisonment).

Extracts from some of the statements made by Thavakumar in his Affidavit: Donovan is outwardly contemptuous of this Honourable Court”; “Donovan impeded or interfered with the administration of justice”; “admits, aiding and abetting the Defendant in breaching the Injunction Order…”; “the Malaysian courts have ruled against the Defendant because they have been influenced by the Plaintiffs.”; “Donovan continues to impede or interfere with the administration of justice.”

Very serious charges.

We had offered to be cross-examined at the Malaysian Embassy in London, but this was not acceptable.

Shell eventually gave up in the face of potential negative publicity arising from pressuring an 89 year old UK citizen to travel to Malaysia in such circumstances. In 2009 Shell settled the case with Dr Huong.

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