Lawyer: Crowd understood Khairy’s ‘homosexual’ remark against Anwar

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Former Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin had defamed Anwar Ibrahim for depicting him as a homosexual and a person of low morals from the perspective of a Malay crowd, the Court of Appeal heard.

Lawyer Gopal Sri Ram said Khairy’s “main belakang” statement was made before a Malay and Umno crowd during a ceramah at Lembah Pantai in 2008 and he was not addressing foreigners.

“Khairy was addressing a crowd who understood the context in which the reference against Anwar was made,” Sri Ram said in his submission before a three-member bench chaired by Lee Swee Seng.

In a statement of claim, Anwar said Khairy had uttered that the then opposition coalition, comprising PAS, DAP and PKR, “undergoes mutaah marriage as practised by the Shia sect. They marry at night and divorce the following day to legitimise a vice. PAS plays DAP from the left and DAP plays PAS from the right. Anwar plays both from the back.”

Sri Ram said that when the speech was made, Anwar had been acquitted of sodomising his former family driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, by the Federal Court in 2004.

“Khairy was accusing Anwar as a sodomite and guilty of the criminal offence,” he said.

He said Khairy was also addressing a Muslim crowd who belonged to the Shafiʽi sect and reference was made to the Shi’a sect who were regarded as a deviant group in this country.

“He was attacking Anwar and the boisterous crowd was laughing when Anwar’s name was mentioned,” he said during a virtual proceeding.

He said the trial judge was aligned to the context and did not see the statements made in isolation.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, appearing for Khairy, said the judge “over-analysed the statements from the perspective of a common man”.

He said Khairy’s statement was a metaphor to state Anwar was the “glue to bring the opposition together”.

“Anwar accepted this suggestion when he was cross-examined during the trial,” he said, adding that there were political and sexual connotations in these statements.

Shafee said Anwar did not bring any other witness apart from himself to support the claim that Khairy had defamed him.

He said there was nothing wrong for the Umno crowd, which he doubted, to laugh as Khairy was merely driving home the point that Anwar could not be trusted politically.

He also said Khairy could rely on the defence of justification that Anwar was a homosexual as the Federal Court gave such an opinion in 2004.

“We are relying on the defence of justification as an antidote in response to the defamation suit by the respondent (Anwar),” he said.

In September 2004, judges Abdul Hamid Mohamad and the late Tengku Baharuddin Shah Tengku Mahmud, in a majority ruling, allowed Anwar’s appeal, while Rahmah Hussain dissented.

The panel also allowed the appeal of Anwar’s adopted brother, Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja, who was jailed for six years for the same offence.

Shafee said Hamid had stated in his judgment that the court “found evidence to confirm that the appellants (Anwar and Sukma) were involved in homosexual activities and we were more inclined to believe that the alleged incident at Tivoli Villas did happen”.

In 2017, judge Azizul Azmi Adnan ordered Khairy to pay Anwar RM150,000 in damages and a further RM60,000 in costs.

Lee, who sat with Darryl Goon and Ghazali Cha, will deliver the court’s ruling on Feb 7. – FMT