PETALING JAYA: Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has threatened to sue anyone who insinuates that it was he who cracked a joke which allegedly did not amuse a senior foreign official at a high-level security meeting.
“This is an utter lie published in The Star,” he told FMT from London.
“Had these people named me, I would sue them for defamation. The claim is wholly a fabrication,” he said.
Without naming him, a columnist in The Star suggested that there were some Pakatan Harapan ministers who were given Cabinet positions just because of their senior positions in their parties.
The writer then gave what he claimed was an anecdote related by a foreign diplomat, about a Malaysian minister who met a “high-level official” named John.
“Your name is John. In my country, there’s roti john. If you come to my country, I can cook roti john for you,” the minister allegedly told the official, according to the writer.
“He said although it was a yummy invitation, the official was not impressed as the meeting was over a serious security matter,” he added.
Roti john is a popular sandwich dish in Malaysia, and Mat Sabu is also well known for his culinary skills.
Following this, former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein mocked an earlier speech in which Mat Sabu used an African proverb to explain Malaysia’s security dilemma: “When elephants fight, the grass will suffer,” Mat Sabu had told a defence summit in Singapore last year.
Hishammuddin asked: “Not long ago there was a buzz about a PH minister’s story on elephants fighting at an international summit.
“This time, it is about roti john. I hope the story is fake,” the Sembrong MP wrote on Facebook.
In response, Mat Sabu advised Hishammuddin to answer on suspicious contracts instead of focussing on “fabricated anecdotes” that are directed at him.
“The defence ministry is currently carrying out a forensic audit on contracts procured during Hishammuddin’s time, including the suspicious sales of helicopters to Malaysia,” Mat Sabu told FMT.
“I’d advise him to be prepared to respond to that,” he added.
Last year, Mat Sabu’s aides lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over the non-delivery of six helicopters worth RM300 million despite about one-third of the payment made.
Hishammuddin had said he was prepared to be called in to answer the allegations.
The ministry has appointed former auditor-general Ambrin Buang to carry out a forensic audit of all transactions in the ministry during the previous administration.