Four DAP Leaders File Defamation Suit Against Azwanddin

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Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and three other DAP leaders filed a defamation suit against Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah over allegations of purported anti-Malay agenda under the Pakatan Harapan administration.

DAP Secretary-General Guan Eng, his Finance Ministry political secretary Tony Pua, senior party adviser Lim Kit Siang and Deputy Defence Minister and Johor party chief Liew Chin Tong are suing Azwanddin over a Youtube video titled ‘Ucapan Penasihat Gagasan Tiga Dato Azwanddin Hamzah’ uploaded on Nov 21 last year.

The four plaintiffs, through legal firm Messrs Karpal Singh & Co, filed the Writ of Summons at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on Sept 6.

On March 14, the media reported the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ramkarpal Singh as saying that a letter of demand has been issued to Azwanddin to compel the NGO leader to make an apology and pay compensation over the alleged defamatory remarks contained in the Youtube video.

The filing of the suit and its cause of action was confirmed by counsel Sangeet Kaur Deo, who is acting for Guan Eng, Pua, Kit Siang, and Liew.

According to a copy of the suit’s Statement of Claim made available to Malaysiakini today, the plaintiffs claimed the defendant made defamatory remarks in the video recording uploaded to the Youtube channel The Third Force on Nov 21.

They claimed that the video was then uploaded to the website www.thethirdforce.net the next day.

They alleged that Azwanddin’s remarks in the video, among others, accused Guan Eng, in his capacity as Finance Minister, of having cancelled allocation of nearly RM200 million for Malay education and that it was instead reallocated for Chinese temples.

The plaintiffs claimed among others, that the defendant’s statement accused Kit Siang and Pua of directing for the Malay agenda to be dropped from the administration of the Malaysian government.

They also claimed that Azwanddin’s remarks, among others, painted the four plaintiffs as having the intent to decrease and/or get rid completely of the Malay participation in government-linked companies (GLC) such as Petronas, Bank Islam, and Sime Darby.

“The plaintiffs plead that the defamatory words are not true at all and is very serious defamation by the defendant with the purpose of smearing their good name, character, and public reputation.”

The four DAP leaders claimed that the purported defamatory words have been published and circulated to members of the public via Youtube and the website www.thethirdforce.net and that Azwanddin had allegedly issued the statement with malicious intent and knowledge that the words would be spread widely through the mass media.

“The defamatory remarks have ‘merendahkan’ (lowered) the plaintiffs in their positions and professions as well as ‘merendahkan’ their status as public figures, senior political party leaders and in government.

“The plaintiffs have also been ‘dipandang rendah’ (viewed lowly) by the general public, as a result of the defamatory words,” the plaintiffs said.

The four also claimed that Azwanddin refused to apologise over the alleged defamatory statement contained in the Youtube video, despite having been given an opportunity to do so.

Guan Eng, Pua, Kit Siang, and Liew are seeking for Azwanddin to issue a written apology and public retraction of the purported defamatory statement that is to be published in publications with wide coverage in the country.

They also seek an injunction to prevent Azwanddin from further issuing a similarly defamatory statement, whether orally or in writing, on any website.

The four DAP personalities are seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages, interest on the damages awarded by the court.

Azwanddin denies having malicious intent in issuing the purported defamatory statement against Guan Eng, Pua, Kit Siang, and Liew.

This is among the defence against the suit that the defendant will rely on, according to his Statement of Defence filed by legal firm Messrs Izzat Muhtar & Hudha, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on Oct 3.

According to a copy of the Statement of Defence sighted by Malaysiakini, Azwanddin denies the majority of the paragraphs of the four plaintiffs’ Statement of Claim.

Nazir Sufari/Malaysiakini

The defendant, among others, denies that the transcript of the Youtube video – which is being relied on by the four plaintiffs in the defamation suit – was wrong, of malicious intent, and was defamatory.

“The entirety of Paragraph 9 of the Plaintiffs’ Statement of Claim is denied where the defendant’s speech does not have the wrong element, malicious intent, and defamatory words in meaning or ordinary meaning and/or innuendo,” Azwanddin said.

Paragraph 9 of the Plaintiffs’ Statement of Claim dealt with their claim over Azwanddin’s allegation in relation to the reallocation of funds initially meant for Malay education and the allegation over GLCs, among others.

Azwanddin denied directing the publication of the alleged defamatory statement via Youtube and the website www.thethirdforce.net and seeks for the plaintiffs to prove that he owned and controlled the said portals.

“Besides what is clearly admitted in the Statement of Defence, the entire statements (paragraphs) contained in the Plaintiffs’ Statement of Claim are denied as though each one presented here is denied one by one specifically,” Azwanddin said.

Meanwhile, through a Reply to the Statement of Defence filed on Oct 18, the four plaintiffs labelled Azwanddin’s Statement of Defence as mere bare denial (penafian kosong), in which they have the right to file an application to strike out the Statement of Defence.

Checks at the online cause list at ecourtservices.kehakiman.gov.my showed that the suit is fixed for e-Review case management by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Nov 22.

The e-Review is a form of teleconferencing which allows both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsels to conduct case management of legal actions without needing to physically come to court. – Malaysiakini