Muhyiddin demands apology, RM10m compensation over quarantine claims

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Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday sent a legal letter to UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi demanding a public apology and a compensation of RM10 million for allegedly defaming him through a Facebook post last week.

In the letter of demand dated Feb 16, issued by Muhyiddin’s law firm Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, the prime minister, among others, demanded Mohd Puad to unequivocally remove his posting on Feb 9 over quarantine statements from his Facebook page under the name “Dr Puad Zarkashi”.

“We are instructed that the impugned post contained plainly untrue, unwarranted, unsubstantiated and mischievous statements against our client.

“These statements against our client are patently untrue, incongruous, baseless, malicious and thus are categorically denied,” said the letter.

The letter signed by Muhyiddin’s lawyers stated that the law firm was instructed to demand Puad to agree to provide an unequivocal public apology in respect of the post on terms to be dictated by the firm to be published prominently and immediately on his Facebook page.

It is also to demand all news portals and social media that had posted the allegedly defamatory statements to also publish the apology, and to provide a written undertaking to not repeat the publishing of similar or identical statements or those of a similar nature to the post in any manner whatsoever.

“We are instructed to demand that you agree to pay compensation to our client a sum of RM10 million.

“Take notice that in the event you fail to comply with the foregoing demands within seven days from the date of this letter, we have our client’s instructions to proceed with legal action against you.

“Take note also that your statements in the impugned post which are untrue, defamatory and malicious which have harmed our client’s reputation constitute an offence of criminal defamatory under Section 500 of the Penal Code, that upon conviction may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or both,” said the letter.

The letter said each of the defamatory statements, by way of natural and ordinary meaning, is understood that among others, Muhyiddin and his entourage refused to be quarantined for 10 days upon their return from their official trip to Jakarta and Cabinet Ministers, including Muhyiddin, are subject to different rules from the public under Act 342 or the current Movement Control Order without justification.

It is understood that the law firm served the letter to Mohd Puad via email and by hand yesterday.

On Feb 9, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement strongly denied claims made by Mohd Puad that the three-day quarantine order had been gazetted for ministers returning from official trips abroad solely because the prime minister did not want to be quarantined after his official visit to Indonesia.

In the statement, the PMO said Muhyiddin had been handed the home surveillance order and given the observation wristband to wear as soon as he arrived from Jakarta on Feb 5 and that he (Muhyiddin) was undergoing quarantine at home.

“The slander hurled by Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi is malicious and aimed at tarnishing the good name of the Prime Minister,” the statement had read.

The PMO, in the statement, had said that legal action would be taken against Mohd Puad if he failed to make a public apology over the matter.