Mohamed Apandi Ali broke down in tears at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today when recalling his tenure as attorney-general (AG) from 2015 to 2018, during the trial of his defamation suit against DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang over an article on the 1MDB scandal.
His tears came after responding to a question by his lawyer M Visvanathan on the third day of the trial before judge Azimah Omar.
Answering the question over a foreign news article about the scandal which was raised by Lim’s lawyers yesterday, Apandi said the New York Times report appeared immediately after his press conference on Jan 26, 2016.
He said that as AG, he had played the dual role of legal adviser to the government and public prosecutor, and thus did not have much time to read local or foreign newspapers.
Apandi added that as legal adviser, his duty was not limited to the federal government as he was also the principal legal adviser for all states in Malaysia.
“(In) my position as public prosecutor, there are thousands of investigation papers all over the country which of course I delegated to my officers in the respective states except for high-profile cases, meaning cases involving high-profile personalities; that’s how busy I was.
“I hardly managed to take any leave as this was not ‘a walk in the park’ job. It was definitely a heavy burden that has taken a toll on my health.
“I’m now subject to check-ups at the National Heart Institute because of the stress,” he added.
He said he was appointed as AG at 65 and had not clocked the full number of years and months needed to receive a full pension.
“That is the sacrifice I have made because I was given the job of AG and the post of AG is not a pensionable post. It was a contract post; there is no pension attached to me.
“Thank you for allowing me to express (myself). I’ve been keeping this; people condemn me. Sorry could not proceed,” he said with tears running down his cheeks while his lawyers tried to calm him down.
Apandi also said he had never asked or lobbied to be the AG.
“I was functioning as federal court judge, looking forward to retirement, when I was suddenly appointed as AG,” he said.
The court then took a one-hour break before Apandi continued with his testimony.
On July 5, 2019, Apandi sued Lim, claiming that on May 6, 2019 Lim had written and caused to be published an article titled “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia’s on the road to integrity” in Malaysiakini.
He claimed that the alleged libellous words in the article implied that he was involved in crime and had abetted in the 1MDB financial scandal, that he was a person with no morals and integrity, and that he was unethical and had abused his power when he was the AG.
Apandi, who was the AG from July 27, 2015 to June 4, 2018, contended that the libellous words were untrue and written with the intention of tarnishing his image and credibility as a former AG for cheap publicity.
He is seeking aggravated and exemplary damages, as well as RM10 million in general damages, an injunction to prevent Lim and/or his agents from publishing the alleged defamatory words again and other relief deemed fit by the court.
The hearing before Azimah continues tomorrow.