KUALA LUMPUR: Umno has not withdrawn its lawsuits against at least seven MPs who defected to PPBM last year, their lawyer Ashok Kandiah said.
“The plaintiff (Umno) only wants to withdraw their action but with the liberty to file afresh,” he said when contacted by FMT.
Ashok is appearing for Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli), Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah), Hamzah Zainudin (Larut), Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam), Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu) and Shahbudin Yahaya (Tasek Gelugor)
He said Umno must abandon the suits once and for all and, by extension, withdraw without liberty to file afresh.
“This is now for the High Court to decide whether the cases can be withdrawn with or without liberty to file afresh,” he said.
Ashok said the High Court in Kuala Terengganu would decide on Aug 24 when the party’s action against Rosol came up for hearing.
On July 14, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told FMT he had instructed his lawyers to drop the suits since both parties were now partners in the Perikatan Nasional coalition.
“We have now become political partners,” he said.
Zahid had said last year that the suits were made in the interest of the party.
The actions on grounds of breach of trust were filed against the seven and Noor Azmi Ghazali (Bagan Serai) and Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (Masjid Tanah). Azmi and Mas Ermieyati are represented by another counsel based in Malacca.
Umno had sought RM200,000 in damages from each of the nine MPs.
Thirteen MPs, including four from Sabah, crossed over to PPBM when it was part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
On March 1, PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin broke away from PH and was sworn in as prime minister after obtaining the support of PPBM, Umno, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and several individual MPs including former PKR leaders.
Mustapa has since returned to the Cabinet as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (economy) while Hamzah is home minister and Latiff is rural development minister.
Ikmal, meanwhile, is deputy defence minister, Noor Azmi is deputy health minister, Rosol is deputy consumer affairs minister, Mas Ermieyati is deputy entrepreneur development and cooperatives minister and Shahbudin is deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Trials for the nine cases, filed in the High Court of Malaya nationwide, have yet to start due to preliminary objections raised by parties.