GEORGE TOWN: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng told the High Court here today that he disagreed with an allegation made by Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim who claimed that a statement made by Lim in a press conference on Feb 28, 2018 had only referred to Azeez, who is Baling MP.
“No, I don’t agree with this. I wish to state that most of the statements referred to other parties, namely the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Umno and MCA and only a few statements referred to the plaintiff (Azeez),” he said in his witness statement read out before Judge Rosilah Yop.
Lim, who was testifying during the hearing of the defamation suit against him filed by Azeez in connection with the undersea tunnel project, said prior to the statements he made, Umno and MCA politicians had made a slew of allegations against the state government for alleged corrupt practices in the Penang undersea tunnel project.
“Their allegations were published by way of an article and was accessed by the public. Besides, MACC had investigated the Penang undersea tunnel project. The commission had raided the offices of several government agencies in Komtar and had questioned Penang government officials,” he said.
Lim also disagreed that the statement made at the press conference was defamatory of the plaintiff. “I don’t agree. As mentioned earlier, most of the statements referred to other parties, namely the MACC, Umno, MCA and not the plaintiff,” he said.
Lim also said the statement he made in the press conference did not claim or mention that Azeez was involved in corruption.
Azeez filed the suit in March 2018, claiming that Lim, who was then the finance minister, had issued defamatory statements during a press conference at the Penang Chief Minister’s office on Feb 28, 2018, and during a Chinese New Year open house hosted by the Penang Development Corporation on the same day, connecting him (Azeez) with a payment of RM3 million in consultation fee by the developer of the undersea tunnel project.
Azeez claimed that the statements gained widespread coverage and was published in a number of websites, electronic news sites and local newspapers, and is thus seeking, among others, general and exemplary damages and other relief deemed fit by the court.
Rosilah set Dec 11 for decision.