Judge says there are triable issues to be determined, but agrees to the removal of two of four press statements made by Tengku Sariffuddin.
KUALA LUMPUR: The prime minister’s press secretary failed to strike out a defamation suit against him by former Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir.
Judicial Commissioner Roslan Abu Bakar said there were triable issues to be determined although he allowed Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad’s application to remove two articles in Mukhriz’a statement of claim.
“On the remaining two, there are triable issues to be determined during a trial,” he said.
Tengku Sariffuddin had applied to strike out the suit by removing four of his press statements referred to by Mukhriz.
Roslan said the first two articles, which were attributed to Tengku Sariffuddin were not defamatory, as they did not refer to Mukhriz.
On a related matter, the judge fixed March 15 to hear an application by Mukhriz to get further and better particulars on the defence filed by Tengku Sariffuddin.
On May 3 last year, Mukhriz, who is also Ayer Hitam assemblyman, filed the suit over four media statements issued by Tengku Sariffuddin on April 15, 20, 23, and 26.
The four press releases were “Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Statement on Donation Confirmation by Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister”, “Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Statement on Former DPM’s Reuters Interview”, “Mukhriz Mahathir Statement: Response by Prime Minister’s Press Secretary” and “Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Statement on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir”.
In his defence Tengku Sariffuddin said he had never defamed Mukhriz in any of his media statements seeking to clarify issues and untruths spread about Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Tengku Sariffuddin, 54, said the statements were published based on qualified privilege and without malice.
He said his media statements were made in his official capacity to prevent rumours or political allegations against the prime minister.
Tengku Sariffuddin’s lawyer Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos later told reporters he would obtain instructions from his client whether to appeal.
Mukhriz’s lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said he was prepared for the case to go on trial even with two press statements removed.