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Najib should sue – for the good of the nation

December 7, 2014

If two opposition leaders refuse to apologise for serious allegations against the PM, he should sue them like he said so the truth can come out.

COMMENT

By Joshua Wu

najib-dec2 Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, through his lawyers, issued a letter of demand to PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and DAP’s Tony Pua over serious allegations against the PM.

Our premier wants Pua to publish a retraction and apologise within 14 days in two national newspapers, or face legal action for his speech recorded on November 3 where Pua said Najib was creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia.

Failure by Rafizi and/or Pua to act as per the letter of demand would most definitely result in legal action being initiated against them.

Some netizens take this as a sign of cowardice on the part of Najib because it comes across as an act to scare off his detractors.

I, however, think it is a good thing that Najib wants the courts to adjudicate what the two Pakatan Rakyat leaders alleged regarding the reduction of fuel subsidies and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) respectively.

I say so because if the issue reaches the courts, evidence will be have to be submitted by both parties. Through that and the court’s ruling, the people can ascertain objectively who is actually correct and who is telling lies.

Is the money saved from the reduction of petrol subsidies going into Najib’s or Rosmah’s pocket as alleged? We will most assuredly find out. Regarding 1MDB, is there any hanky-panky regarding the use of the people’s money? We will undoubtedly find that out too.

If Mrs Donoghue did not sue a ginger beer manufacturing company after finding a decomposed snail in her drink, we would not have the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson. In this case, Lord Atkin established the all-important “neighbour principle” and it revolutionised the tort of negligence as we know it today.

This shows us that case law is an important contributor to the development of the law as it ensures that the law stays relevant in light of changing social, economic and cultural conditions.

Freedom of speech does not include the right to defame a person. Therefore, if Rafizi has no evidence to support his claim that Najib or Rosmah have directly or indirectly benefited financially from the reduction of fuel subsidies, he would be liable for defamation.

Pua meanwhile offered immensely mind boggling statistics on 1MDB. However, if he does not have any solid admissible evidence to back up his allegations, he would have to fork out a lot of money to compensate Najib for the “tremendous stress and embarrassment” caused.

If Najib wins his lawsuit(s) against Rafizi and/or Pua, the enormous amount of damages usually awarded in defamation cases should act as a precedent to teach our leaders to speak only when they have proof to attest to their claim.

If our public leaders do not learn that lesson, we would have more and more Mashitah cases where an irresponsible person offers unsubstantiated facts as the real deal only to get whacked left, right and centre (metaphorically) by the public later.

In conclusion, while Mahathir is of the opinion that taking legal action for political slander is useless, I beg to differ for the aforementioned reasons.

The way I see it, litigation over controversial issues would be beneficial for the common folk who ardently follow our nation’s politics. In this regard, developing a litigation culture is good to a certain extent.

Joshua Wu is an FMT reader.


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