Defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown.
Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah told the Kuala Lumpur High Court in her defamation suit against Clare Rewcastle Brown that she is still in the dark as to why the Sarawak Report editor tried to link her with the establishment of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
She said she was never involved in politics and any matters related to the state government.
“Why does she have to write ‘wife of the sultan’? Was she trying to sell her books using my name?
“This is defamatory,” Sultanah Nur Zahirah said when cross-examined by lawyer Americk Sidhu, who was appearing for Rewcastle Brown, during the online proceeding.
Americk had asked Sultanah Nur Zahirah if she had any “misunderstandings” with Rewcastle Brown in the past.
The sultanah said she did not even know Rewcastle Brown until the investigative journalist mentioned her in the latter’s book entitled “The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose”.
The book, which tells the story behind investigations into 1MDB, was written by Rewcastle Brown and published in 2018.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed a RM100 million defamation suit against Rewcastle Brown, publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd in 2018, claiming that the writer had made a disparaging statement in the book.
The impugned statement was: “Jho (fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low) was also friendly with a key player in Terengganu, the wife of the sultan, whose acquiescence was needed to set up the fund and he later cited her support as having been crucial to his obtaining the advisory position”.
Sultanah Nur Zahirah claimed that the statement could be taken to mean that she was involved in corrupt practices and interfered in Terengganu’s administration, besides using her status to influence the establishment of TIA.
She also alleged that the statement had also construed her as having helped Jho Low to become the adviser of TIA.
Americk then asked Sultanah Nur Zahirah regarding a second edition of Rewcastle Brown’s book – republished in September 2018 – that amended “wife of the Sultan” to “sister of the Sultan”.
Americk: Can you accept that “wife of the Sultan” was a mistake?
Sultanah Nur Zahirah: Yes.
The sultanah, however, said she did not know whether her sister-in-law, Tengku Rahimah, took any action against Rewcastle Brown after the amendments.
She also told the court she knew Rewcastle Brown had issued an apology over the matter, but she said the apology was insincere.
Meanwhile, during re-examination by her lawyer, Vishnukumar Ramalingam, Sultanah Nur Zahirah affirmed that she is a housewife whose primary duty was to take care of her four children.
“The book talked about corruption and I don’t understand why she (Rewcastle Brown) can’t get her facts right.
“Any person would not want to be associated with Jho Low after what he had done to the country, and (suddenly) my name was mentioned in a controversial book,” she said.
Former comptroller of the Terengganu Royal Household Azmi Mohamad Daham also testified today.
He told the court that he was instructed by the royal family to lodge a police report four years ago against the passage in Rewcastle Brown’s book, denying Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s involvement in TIA and the state government.
To a question from Americk on whether Azmi knew that his police report was previously classified as “no further action” or NFA, the witness said he knew about it.
“I was told by the police (about the NFA),” Azmi added.
However, Azmi said he did not know whether the same police report became the basis for the authorities to file a criminal defamation charge against Rewcastle Brown in the magistrates’ court last year.
The hearing continues before judicial commissioner Lee Kien How @ Johan Lee on Thursday. – FMT