Terengganu sultanah in bid to avoid full trial for suit against Rewcastle-Brown

Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s lawyer, Haaziq Pillay Abdullah.

KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah has sought to have her RM300 million lawsuit against investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown and two others decided through points of law without proceeding to a full trial.

Her lawyer Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said her application for this was filed on May 13.

“Under our defamation laws, the judge has the discretion to decide if the impugned statements are defamatory.

“If the judge rules in favour of our application, it means that Tuanku is not required to give evidence,” he said, adding that Rewcastle-Brown, publisher Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd may need to present their defence to justify the statements in question.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed the suit against the three in November last year over claims that she was a close associate of Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and that she had helped the fugitive businessman obtain an advisory position in Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).

TIA was taken over by the federal government in 2009 and renamed as 1MDB.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah also claimed that Rewcastle-Brown’s statement in her book, “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of 1MDB Expose”, implied that the sultan’s wife had interfered in the state administration.

Rewcastle-Brown had said that Jho Low was friendly with a key player in Terengganu, the wife of the sultan, whose acquiescence was needed to set up the fund, and that he later cited her support as having been crucial to his obtaining the advisory position.

Sultanah Nur Zahirah said Rewcastle-Brown’s statement was defamatory and had tarnished her reputation.

In her suit, she sought RM300 million in damages from Rewcastle-Brown, Chong and Vinlin Press, as well as an order to stop the sale and publication of Rewcastle-Brown’s book.

Haaziq said today that High Court judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim had set June 17 for mention of the application.

The court previously set Nov 25 to 29 for trial.