The press covering Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial was the subject of a complaint by the former prime minister’s defence team for its “lopsided reporting” on the corruption case.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah aired his grievances at the High Court here on Wednesday (Jan 24) over media reports on the trial, particularly an online news report titled “Najib denied 1MDB CEO access to US$3bil in funds, court told”.
The news report was based on the witness statement of senior supt Nur Aida Arifin of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), who was the investigating officer of 1MDB and the prosecution’s 49th witness.
Muhammad Shafee, who had objected to the witness statement earlier, said the report was “totally unfair” and “completely jaundiced”.
“Of course, it is ‘verbatimly’ correct but the reporting is totally unfair. In the article, you will find that they merely quoted the witness which became the subject of objection.
“It is a lopsided reporting with no citation of the objection and therefore putting what the investigating officer in limbo as to the veracity.
“Your Honour is yet to decide whether it (the statement) can be believed or not,” Muhammad Shafee said to Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
The lawyer sought for the court’s direction to the reporters covering the case to be fair in their reporting.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib replied that he had no comment on the matter.
Justice Sequerah, now a Court of Appeal judge, said he took note of the complaint, but he could not direct the media on how they reported the case as it was their prerogative.
“Perhaps the reporting ought to have stated to place these things in proper perspective that these things (objection) were said that an objection was taken on grounds of hearsay. Anything that I think, perhaps, will assuage your concerns.
“With the objection taken, obviously the veracity has yet to be tested. In any event, that is a determination for me to make at the end of it (the trial),” he said.
The defence had objected to Nur Aida’s testimony since she began reading her 95-page witness statement on Jan 2.
Muhammad Shafee had said that Nur Aida’s testimony was based on “her own conclusions”.
Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges, four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
The hearing continues on Friday (Jan 26). – The Star