Tuesday, October 15

Sultanah Nur Zahirah disagrees defamatory statement not referred to her, court heard

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KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah disagreed with the affidavit affirmed by a Britain citizen that the defamatory statement uttered by the founder and editor of Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, was not referred to her, the High Court heard.

Counsel Vishu Kumar, who represented Sultanah Nur Zahirah, in his submissions said the defendant (Rewcastle-Brown) relied on John Ellision Kahn’s affidavit affirmed on June 24 this year, saying that the statement complained of was referred to the Terengganu’s Sultan and not the Sultan’s wife.

“Kahn himself said in his affidavit that he was not claiming the role of an expert. Since Kahn was not claiming the role of an expert, then John’s opinion on the statement has no probative value and should be rejected,” he said during the hearing of Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s application for her defamation suit against Rewcastle-Brown and two others to be disposed of via summary judgment.

Vishu also submitted that after the defendants made and published the statement complained of in the exhibit, the defendants later made an amendment in the later print of the said Book whereby in relation to the statement, the defendants substituted the reference to the plaintiff (Sultanah Nur Zahirah) with the Sultan’s sister.

“If the defendants really viewed the statement complained of in the said Book meant to refer to the Sultan, then the defendants could have easily deleted the words ‘the wife of’ and only maintained the words ‘the Sultan’ when the defendants published the later print of the said Book.

“The action of the defendants in substituting the reference to the plaintiff with the Sultan’s sister shows the defendants appeared ready to admit that they were wrong to have made the defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff in the said Book,” he added.

Judge Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim then fixed Oct 18 to hear the submissions from the defendants’ lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the application for her suit to be decided by summary judgment on May 27 this year, under Order 14A of the Rules of Court 2012.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit on Nov 21 last year, naming Rewcastle-Brown or Clare Louise Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher Chong Ton Sin as well as the printing company, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd, as the first to the third defendants alleging that the first defendant made a disparaging statement about her in her book, The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose.

The plaintiff claimed the statement could be taken to mean that she was involved in corrupt practices and interfered in Terengganu’s administration besides using her status to influence the establishment of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) which later became 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

She alleged that the statement also construed her as having helped fugitive businessman Jho Low or Low Taek Jho to become the adviser for TIA.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah contended that she had never gotten herself involved in the state administration of Terengganu and the establishment of TIA and therefore the statement had slandered and tarnished her reputation.

She is seeking general damages of RM100 million from each defendant and seeking an order for the second defendant (publisher) to withdraw the book containing the defamatory statement and for the third defendant to stop further printing of the book. — Bernama