KUALA LUMPUR: Muhyiddin Yassin has denied defaming DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng on three separate occasions, including once after the former prime minister was charged with corruption.
The Bersatu president said a press statement he published on his
Facebook page on March 9 was not defamatory of Lim in any way, shape or form.
“The defendant (Muhyiddin) further states that the press statement should be read as a whole, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the publication,” Muhyiddin said in his defence filed in the High Court yesterday to a suit filed by Lim.
Muhyiddin took a similar stand in respect of his second media statement published on Facebook on March 11.
The 75-year-old Pagoh MP’s defence, sighted by FMT, also denies that the words he uttered during an interview on March 12 were defamatory of Lim.
“The defendant further states that the words should be taken in the context of the entire interview, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the same, and not in parts,” the defence statement said.
The Perikatan Nasional chairman said he will rely on the full transcript of the interview during the trial.
Muhyiddin’s 30-page defence statement, filed by solicitors Chetan Jethwani & Co, relies on the defences of justification, fair comment and qualified privilege to defeat Lim’s defamation suit.
It also said Muhyiddin had no control over any publication by the media of his alleged defamatory statements.
“The defendant states that the number of viewers and comments is
not definitive and cannot be used to measure the scale of
publication,” it said.
In his defence statement, Muhyiddin admitted to referring to Lim in his three statements, but said it was over Lim’s capacity as the then finance minister and the person who was ultimately in charge of the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), and not in his personal capacity.
On March 27, Lim, who is also the Bagan MP, filed a suit and sought an apology and retraction of the three allegedly defamatory statements that were made by Muhyiddin via Facebook and in major newspapers and portals.
The suit, filed by solicitors Guok Partnership, also seeks damages and an injunction restraining Muhyiddin and his agents from issuing,
publishing or republishing the alleged defamatory statements.
In his remarks on March 9, Muhyiddin alleged that Lim, who was the finance minister between 2018 and 2020, was involved in the previous government’s alleged revocation of the tax exemption status given to Muslim charitable organisation Yayasan Albukhary.
Lim claimed the first statement was published on March 9, just after
Muhyiddin was released from arrest by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
He said the second statement, made in a media release on March 11, alleged that Lim had imposed a tax on the foundation and a 45% penalty on tax payable for preceding years.
Lim also said Muhyiddin had claimed in a media interview, after delivering his winding-up speech at Bersatu’s annual general assembly on March 12, that since LHDN was under Lim’s purview at the time, any instructions to cancel the foundation’s tax exemption must have come from him.
He said the statements, in their natural and ordinary meaning, were
meant to show that he had abused his position and power by authorising the imposition of taxes and penalties on a welfare foundation.
He said they were also meant to depict him as being racist, anti-Malay, anti-Islam and a vindictive person, and that he had acted in bad faith.
Muhyiddin was charged between March 10 and 13 with four counts of abuse of power over RM232.5 million in alleged bribes for Bersatu from three companies – Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd, Nepturis Sdn Bhd and Mamfor Sdn Bhd – and an individual, Azman Yusoff.
He is also facing three charges of alleged money laundering of RM200 million, deposited into Bersatu’s bank accounts.
Muhyiddin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.