PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak’s withdrawal of two 1MDB-related defamation suits has given an impression, among others, that he does not have strong cases against his opponents, lawyer S N Nair said.
“He appears to have merely used the suits to overawe his opponents when he was in a position of authority,” he told FMT.
Nair said if Najib had been serious about the legal action, he should have continued as he was suing the defendants who had injured his reputation in the eyes of the public.
The lawyer said this in response to Najib withdrawing his 2015 lawsuit against Damansara MP Tony Pua over the DAP national publicity chief’s alleged defamatory statement on 1MDB.
Lawyer Hafarizam Harun, who appeared for Najib, said yesterday he had been instructed to retract the suit on terms that were not disclosed to the media.
Najib sued Pua and MediaRakyat owner Chan Chee Keong over a statement Pua had purportedly made at a fundraising dinner in 2014.
He claimed Pua had made the defamatory remark on 1MDB by stating “Najib created the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”.
Najib also claimed that Pua’s speech meant he had stolen the people’s money with regard to 1MDB transactions, and that he could not be trusted to hold public office.
He said the statement was then uploaded by Chan or his agents to YouTube and the MediaRakyat website.
Last week Najib also retracted his defamation suit against former MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik, saying he had to focus on “other pressing matters”.
Najib had filed the suit after Ling, a former transport minister, was said to have
uttered that Najib had “taken the people’s money” in the RM2.6 billion donation affair.
The court had ordered Najib to pay Ling RM25,000 in costs for withdrawing the action.
Najib has at least three more defamation suits where he had sued parties – while another five people have dragged him to court – in relation to the 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion affairs.
The matters are either at trial stage or pending appeal in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.
Nair said from the trend of the withdrawal of the two suits, it would appear that the other cases would be discontinued.
“I think the cases will be settled out of court because Najib’s opponents are on a stronger footing to prove their cases or successfully raise justification as a defence,” he said.
Moreover, Nair said evidence on 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion was in the public domain following the general election and Pakatan Harapan forming the federal government.
“Witnesses, including ministers and civil servants, will be ready to give evidence against Najib,” he added.