Puad ready to meet PM in court over RM10m defamation suit

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Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi is prepared to meet Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in court over a RM10 million defamation suit against him.

This was over Mohd Puad’s statement on his Facebook account questioning the alleged double standards involving the three-day quarantine issue.

The former deputy education minister said he would defend his right to practise freedom of speech at all cost and not allow himself to be bullied by Muhyiddin.

“I was merely asking for clarification on the three-day observation rule for ministers returning from overseas.

“This is a public interest issue, and I am using my freedom of speech to question the move.

Salhani Ibrahim/NST

“I don’t need to apologise and am ready to go to court. This will give me the opportunity to defend myself and stand with the people,” he said in a Facebook posting today.

He said the legal suit was intended to silence and intimidate critics who questioned the ‘double standards’ in the quarantine issue.

In a letter of demand dated Feb 16, Muhyiddin through Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, demanded a public apology and a compensation of RM10 million from Mohd Puad.

He is also seeking Mohd Puad to unequivocally remove his posting on Feb 9 over the quarantine statement from his Facebook page under the name “Dr Puad Zarkashi”.

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 subjected to different rules from the public under Act 342 of the current Movement Control Order without justification.

“This statements against our client are patently untrue, incongruous, baseless, malicious, and this are categorically denied.

“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,” it was stated in the letter.

On Feb 9, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) in a statement strongly denied claims made by Mohd Puad that the three-day quarantine order had been gazetted for ministers retiring 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 war as soon as he arrived from Jakarta on Feb 5 and that he (Muhyiddin) was undergoing quarantine at home.

“The slander hurled by Mohd Puad is malicious and aimed at tarnishing the good name of the Prime Minister.

“Legal action would be taken against him (Mohd Puad) if he fails to make a public apology over the matter,” the statement said. – NST