Bersatu leader Azmin Ali has rubbished allegations that he uttered any defamatory statements against DAP national chairperson Lim Guan Eng in relation to a defamation suit over an abuse of power claim.
In his statement of defence against Lim’s civil suit, Azmin said this includes the scenario if he had ever uttered the word “l*ngs*” during a 15th general election campaign speech at Lunas, Kedah, on Nov 12 last year.
In raising the defence of justification (willing to prove the statement in court), Azmin claimed that his speech was based on what plaintiff Lim had purportedly said openly in relation to DAP’s rival MCA (both parties are now part of the Anwar Ibrahim-led government).
In April this year, Bagan MP Lim filed a civil action against Azmin over allegations, among others, that the Internal Revenue Board (IRB) being purportedly used to go after companies linked to MCA.
In his defence filed at the Sungai Petani High Court on Monday this week, Hulu Kelang assemblyperson Azmin pointed to multiple news articles to strengthen his justification defence, among them was one dated Oct 12, 2019.
This news report was about an exchange between Lim and MCA president Wee Ka Siong in Parliament, where the then finance minister said that the government would channel RM60 million in funds to MCA-owned Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) if the party was willing to relinquish its ownership of the private higher education institution.
“The defendant stresses that the defendant has never intended to defame the plaintiff. In fact, he was merely stating what happened when the plaintiff was with the defendant in the Harapan government from May 2018 to March 2020,” Azmin claimed in the court filing sighted by Malaysiakini.
Azmin contended that his campaign speech was merely giving a critique of the then Harapan administration where Lim was part of the cabinet, in regards to the then government’s policies relating to several firms.
The defendant also cited the defence of fair comment, whereby he contended members of the public have the right to know matters of public interest, such as what Lim purportedly did as then finance minister.
Azmin further contended that his speech did not contain any defamatory element as Lim still clinched the Bagan parliamentary seat in GE15.
“The defendant also pleads that in reference to the vote percentage obtained by the plaintiff and also the plaintiff’s political party DAP during GE15, the Chinese community still gave support to the plaintiff and DAP.
“Therefore, there was no effect received by the plaintiff and DAP from the hurtful (menyinggung) statements that were allegedly (kononnya) said by the defendant,” Azmin claimed, adding that he had no malice against Lim when he made his speech.
During GE15, Lim won the Bagan parliamentary seat by 49,648 votes in a four-cornered fight. The other contenders were Alan Oh (Perikatan Nasional), Tan Chuan Hong (BN), and Mohammed Hafiz Mohamed Abu Bakar (Pejuang).
When contacted by Malaysiakini, Air Putih putih assemblyperson Lim’s counsel Simon Murali said that Azmin’s lawyers have filed the statement of defence at the civil court.
The defendant is represented by counsel from law firm Messrs Sasha Lyna Abdul Latiff.
When contacted, Sasha Lyna confirmed the filing of Azmin’s statement of defence on Monday this week. – Malaysiakini