Saturday, October 23, 2021

No more delays, Khairy’s appeal in Anwar defamation suit must proceed, says judge

The judge says no further adjournment date will be allowed as the appeal was made in 2017.

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The Court of Appeal today cautioned that there would be no further adjournment in Khairy Jamaluddin’s appeal hearing over having to pay RM150,000 in damages to Anwar Ibrahim in a defamation suit 13 years ago.

Justice Lee Swee Seng who led a three-member bench said today’s delay had to be the last adjournment as it was a 2017 appeal.

He said this after Khairy’s co-counsel requested for a postponement as lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was unable to attend today’s proceedings after calling in sick.

“No matter what, we have to proceed with the case. We are sympathetic with respect to health issues, but this is a 2017 case (appeal) and this case should be disposed of as soon as possible this year. The legal team should have prepared another lawyer to submit, in the event that the lead lawyer is indisposed.

“The adjournment (today) shall be the final adjournment date, and no further adjournment date will be allowed. The case – come rain or shine, rain or flood, pandemic or no pandemic – will proceed,” said Lee who presided over the case via Zoom with justices Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Darryl Goon Siew Chye.

Co-counsel for Khairy, Sarah Abishegam, informed the panel that she had received a call from Shafee this morning.

“He (Shafee) said he is unable to conduct today’s proceedings as he has developed a fever due to pain from rheumatoid arthritis, and is also suffering from pain in his wrists and right shoulder.

“Therefore, he is requesting that this case be adjourned. We apologise, Yang Arif. We will submit the medical certificate to the court,” she said.

Lee also directed for the matter to be fixed for case management before the court registry to set a new hearing date for Khairy’s appeal, as Anwar’s counsel J Leela did not raise any objection to the adjournment application.

Leela later told the media that the court fixed Nov 2 for the hearing of the appeal.

Anwar, who is PKR president, sued Khairy, who was then youth and sports minister and Umno Youth vice-chief, on March 7, 2008, alleging that Khairy had uttered defamatory words about him during a ceramah at Lembah Pantai on Feb 20 the same year which led to the posting of a video clip titled “Anwar and kin no threat” on news portals.

In September 2017, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan allowed Anwar’s suit against Khairy and found Khairy liable for defamation, ordering him to pay RM150,000 in general damages to Anwar.

Azizul also dismissed Khairy’s application to amend his statement of defence to say that his remark was a fair comment.

Khairy subsequently filed an appeal against the High Court ruling but in February 2018, the Court of Appeal struck it out after allowing an application by Anwar’s counsel to annul the notice of appeal.

On Dec 15 last year, the Federal Court allowed Khairy’s appeal for his case to be reheard on its full merits at the Court of Appeal, which was set for hearing today.

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