Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki has described C4 senior researcher Lalitha Kunaratnam as an untrustworthy person and not an investigative journalist as she claims to be.
Azam, in his reply to Lalitha’s statement of defence against his defamation suit filed through Messrs Ibrahim & Fuaadah today, also questioned her claim that she had a good working relationship with him and MACC staff members.
Azam said if this was at all true, it should have made it easier for Lalitha to seek confirmation from him before publishing defamatory articles and tweets.
“Instead, the defendant (Lalitha) had written, published and re-published the articles and tweets without first obtaining confirmation and feedback from me.
“The defence statement here clearly intends to mislead the court by claiming that she purportedly had a close working relationship with me and my staff when in fact the MACC and I have never had any personal contact with her,” he said.
Azam said the defendant also did not provide the contact details of her alleged informant.
“As an ‘investigative journalist’, it is a basic requirement for her to get the full details or at least the full name of the MACC officer identified as ‘Hong’ and the number of the informant given by the authorities (as claimed in her statement of defence),” he said.
Lalitha’s counsel, Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamad, when contacted by reporters, said case management for the suit has been fixed for March 8.
On Jan 12, Azam, 59, filed a suit against Lalitha for allegedly publishing defamatory articles related to the purchase of shares in the Independent News Service (INS) news agency portal.
Azam’s statement of claim said the defendant had written two articles titled “Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part 1)” and “Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part Two)” published in INS on Oct 26 and republished on Dec 15 last year.
He also claimed that the defendant had shared links to the articles on her Twitter account @LalithaVelvet that were still accessible at the time the suit was filed.
Azam claimed that the articles were sensational, scandalous and offensive and were written and republished with malicious intent to give a bad perception to readers that the plaintiff was a corrupt civil servant or one who had abused his position as a senior MACC official for his or his sibling’s interests.
Meanwhile, Lalitha through her statement of defence filed on Feb 3 claimed that the contents of the article and her tweets involving Azam were obtained from legitimate sources.