Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been ordered to take the witness stand to testify in the defamation suit by Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah against Red Shirts leader Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos after the High Court dismissed Mahathir’s application to strike out a subpoena by Jamal.
Justice Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab made the decision in chambers, during which Mahathir was represented by counsel Ilyani Noor Khuszairy; Jamal by counsel V Mugunthan and Mohamed Nasser Yusof; and Maria by counsel N Surendran and Latheefa Koya.
Ilyani told reporters that the court dismissed Mahathir’s application on the ground that he must know about Bersih 3.0 as he had previously given a statement on the rally and that his testimony could assist the court in its decision on the case.
She said the court further noted that Mahathir must know about the detention of Maria’s late husband Yunus Ali under the now-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987, as he was at that time the Home Minister.
“We will not appeal against today’s ruling and Dr Mahathir will testify in the defamation trial,” she said.
Jamal obtained the subpoena on Sept 28, 2017, for Mahathir to testify in Maria’s suit against him for associating Bersih 2.0 with the Islamic State militant group.
The Sungai Besar Umno division chief had summoned the former premier to be his witness in the trial to prove his defence of fair comment and justification.
On Dec 19, 2017, Mahathir applied for a court order to set aside the subpoena on the ground that he did not have any specific knowledge on the issue in the case.
On Nov 14, 2017, the court allowed Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun to strike out Jamal’s subpoena against him in the same case.
The court granted the application on the ground that Fuzi, who was then Special Branch director, did not have knowledge about the detention of Maria under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012.
Maria, 61, sued Jamal on Oct 7, 2016.
In her lawsuit, Maria claimed that on Sept 28, 2016, Jamal uttered defamatory words against her in a media conference at the Putra World Trade Centre, which were then published by a number of news portals as well as the print and electronic media.
She also alleged that on Oct 4, 2016, Jamal once again slandered her at the Bukit Aman police headquarters, and that this statement was carried by news portals as well as the print and electronic media.
Maria is seeking general and aggravated damages, as well as an injunction to stop Jamal from uttering or publishing similar words, either verbally, in print or online.