Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has filed a defamation suit against Dr Mahathir Mohamad over allegations that he used his position to influence the latter to interfere in his ongoing court proceedings.
Zahid, who faces 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi funds, filed the suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on April 20 through the legal firm of Messrs Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq.
In his statement of claim, Zahid said Mahathir, who is Pejuang chairman, had issued defamatory statements with malicious intent against him at a Pejuang event at Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana, Putrajaya, on Feb 23.
The event was held in conjunction with the 15th Johor state election.
A video recording of the statement was republished live on the same day on Astro Awani’s YouTube account, which had 1.4 million subscribers, he said, adding that on the day the writ of summons and the statement of claim were filed, the video had received a total of 23,443 views.
He claimed the video recording was also widely reported through various social media platforms, namely the YouTube account of MalaysiaGazette TV, Facebook profile of Astro Awani, and TikTok account of MalaysiaGazette TV, as well as online news portals such as Berita Harian Online, Agenda Daily, The Malaysian Reserve, MalaysiaNow, The Malay Mail and the New Straits Times.
The Bagan Datuk MP claimed the statement meant that he was a person who used shortcuts to resolve and postpone the trial of his ongoing court cases and had used his position to influence Mahathir to interfere in his criminal trials and investigations by law enforcement agencies.
“The statements also mean that I am a hypocrite and cannot be trusted, and that every action I take is suspicious and its transparency is doubtful, in addition to me trying to interfere in the country’s judicial system,” he said.
Zahid said the statements had tarnished and damaged his reputation and name, as well as his credibility as Umno president and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman.
“Therefore, the defamatory statements were clearly issued with malicious intent to influence and give a bad and negative reputation to me as the top leader of BN, which indirectly gave a bad image to its component parties contesting in the Johor state election,” he said.
He is seeking general damages, aggravated and exemplary damages, interest, as well as an order to compel the defendant to publish an unconditional apology in writing in a newspaper to be determined by Zahid himself, as well as costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.
Zahid also filed a notice for an inter-parte application for an interim injunction for the defendant either personally or through his officers, assistants, agents, employees and representatives to retract the statement and prevent them from publishing, distributing or disseminating the statement or similar statements on any social media platform including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp.
He likewise filed for an interim injunction to compel the defendant to delete, edit and stop the publication of the part of the video recording containing the statements in online news portals and the social media of Astro Awani and MalaysiaGazette TV.
He also applied for an interim injunction to compel the defendant to write to the publisher, editor, operator and owner of online news portals or social media platforms that had published the statement to delete it and cease its publication.
Lawyer Shahrul Fazli Kamarulzaman, representing Zahid, when contacted, said the matter came up for case management before High Court deputy registrar Nor Afidah Idris today.
The court set June 17 for the hearing of the inter-parte application before judge Rozana Ali Yusoff.
Last month, Zahid filed a similar suit against Muhyiddin Yassin over allegations that he had asked for help to resolve or postpone the trial of his criminal cases.