Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has denied defaming Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, saying the statements he made regarding the Umno president asking for his help to intervene in his court cases were true.
Muhyiddin, 74, in his statement of defence filed on May 9, claimed that the statements he made during the 15th Johor state election campaign in Mersing at the compound of the Sentuhan Kasih Felda Tenggaroh Learning Centre 3 on Feb 16 were mostly justified as true and fair comment as well as in public interest.
Muhyiddin also said he had no control over and was not responsible for any publication made by Astro Awani on its YouTube channel, or KiniTV, Malaysiakini, Utusan Malaysia or any other online news portals.
“There was no malicious intent on my part in making the statement. In particular, I deny that the publication was made with the intention of tarnishing the reputation of the plaintiff (Zahid) in public,” Muhyiddin said.
In the suit filed on April 4, the Bagan Datuk MP sought an ex-parte injunction for Muhyiddin or his representative to withdraw the allegedly defamatory statements or similar defamatory statements against him.
Zahid, 69, also applied for an interim injunction to restrain the defendant, his officers and assistants as well as his agents and representatives from issuing, publishing, distributing or disseminating such statements on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp.
He also applied for an interim injunction for the defendant to delete, edit and stop the publication of the part of the video footage which contained the allegedly defamatory statement in online news portals and social media including the Perikatan Nasional Facebook page, Astro Awani YouTube channel and KiniTV.
He claimed that Muhyiddin’s statement implied he had used a shortcut to settle and postpone his ongoing court cases, that he had asked for Muhyiddin’s help to intervene in the court cases and the judiciary system to order the dissolution of the Johor state assembly, and that he was not a respectable and exemplary leader.
Zahid claimed that the allegations were false and aimed at tarnishing his name and reputation, and that they were made by the defendant after the Election Commission’s announcement on the Johor state election.
Zahid’s lawyer Shahrul Fazli Kamarulzaman, when contacted, said case management was set for May 25.