Malaysia former PM files RM150 million defamation lawsuit against Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia former PM files RM150 million defamation lawsuit against Anwar Ibrahim

MALAYSIA — Former Malaysian premier, Mahathir Mohamad, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for RM150 million (33.7 million USD) over “slanderous” accusations of enriching himself and his family during his time in power.

The defamation lawsuit, filed on 3 May in the High Court in Shah Alam, seeks RM150 million in damages, including RM50 million in general damages and RM100 million in exemplary damages.

97-year-old Mahathir is also seeking a court order for Anwar to remove the sharing of his remarks on social media and in the media.

In his legal action, Mahathir alleged that Anwar accused him of discussing Malaysian issues only after losing power and made other allegations, including that he was racist and encouraging racial division.

Mahathir was referring to Anwar’s speech on 18 March at the event titled “Kongres Nasional Khas Malaysia Madani: ‘Perlaksanaan Sebuah Idealisme” at Stadium Melawati, Shah Alam, which was streamed live on Anwar’s own Facebook page and PKR’s YouTube channel.

According to Mahathir, Anwar labelled him as a “scoundrel” and insinuated that he had amassed billions of wealth while avoiding taxes and enriching his family.

Mahathir previously denied these allegations as false.

Mahathir believes that he is entitled to seek substantial compensation from Anwar as he was in a position to verify the facts before making his statements as Malaysia’s PM.

He hoped that the lawsuit will serve as a lesson to all leaders not to make statements without fact-checking merely to gain “political points”.

Mahathir criticized Anwar’s remarks as defamatory and damaging to his reputation as a statesman and former PM, causing “shame” to his family members.

Moreover, Mahathir claims that Anwar’s comments have caused a loss of support and trust from the community, created a negative perception of him, and harmed his opportunities in business, income, and politics.

The defamation lawsuit will be managed by High Court judicial commissioner Jamhirah Ali on 31 May.

Before filing the lawsuit, Mahathir had demanded an apology from Anwar and a retraction of his statements. However, Anwar’s lawyer responded that he would address all issues in court.

Malaysia’s media Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that Alliff Benjamin Suhaimi, of Thomas Philip, the solicitors representing Anwar, said, “our client’s stand is as per the response to Dr Mahathir’s letter of demand sent to us back in March.”

Anwar dares Tun M to disclose all assets

On 7 May, Anwar again challenged Tun M to disclose all assets owned by him and his family.

According to Berita Harian, he claimed that the same demand had been made by him to the former PM but had not been answered until now.

“That’s why I asked Tun Dr Mahathir, Tun Daim (Zainuddin) who are billionaires. It’s okay if you want to fight for the Malays, I agree.”

“But your billions of wealth, your children have planes, ships, and banks overseas, bring back that money and give it to the Malays in Malaysia.”

During the PKR Congress on 18 March, Anwar alluded to a “former boss” who led the government without explicitly naming Dr Mahathir.

“Someone held power for 22 years plus 22 months (but) now complains that Malays have lost everything, lost wealth, lost shares. ”

“How can (Malaysian power and wealth) not be lost if you grabbed everything for yourself, your family and your children, and now when you lost power you start talking about the people,” Anwar was delivering a speech at the congress.

As Malaysia’s fourth PM, Mahathir held his premiership from 1981 to 2003, during which time the Barisan National coalition achieved an undeniable two-thirds majority.

In 2015, Mahathir called for the resignation of BN’s chairman and then-PM Najib Razik over the 1MDB corruption scandal. He left UMNO the following year and founded the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (BERSATU).

Mahathir officially joined the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) and won Malaysia’s 14th General Election. He once again led the government as the country’s seventh prime minister for 22 months, from May 2018 until February 2020.

After his tenure, Mahathir announced the formation of a new political party, the Homeland Fighters’ Party, but he failed to defend his seat in the Langkawi constituency during the 15th Malaysia General Election, losing by a significant margin.

Anwar served in Mahathir’s cabinet as the culture, youth, and sports minister from 1983.

In 1998, he was sacked from both Umno and the government while serving as deputy prime minister.

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