PETALING JAYA: Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) deputy president Ezam Noor has hit out at Penang executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari’s threat to take legal action against a state PRM leader.
Yesterday, the Penang DAP vice-chairman issued a letter of demand to Penang PRM vice-chairman Ravinder Singh and two others for “false and slanderous” claims against him in a video clip posted on social media.
Describing the defamation suit threat as “arrogant”, Ezam said Ravinder’s allegations are of public interest and should be addressed through political discourse.
“PRM is dismayed by the growing culture of political lawsuits. Large political parties and prominent leaders, undoubtedly with significant financial resources, employ expensive legal services to silence their political opponents,” Ezam said in a statement.
“Zairil, as a politician representing a political party and holding a position within the state government, has all the necessary resources to respond openly to Ravinder’s allegations.
“Does this mean the government is denying space for open discourse and showcasing its arrogance by utilising its power and wealth to suppress and sue opponents?”
In his letter of demand, Zairil asked Ravinder, heritage activist Khoo Salma Nasution, and the publisher of the video, Zaidi Dali, to apologise and retract their “false and slanderous” remarks.
According to Zairil’s aide, Farid Maulud, among these remarks was a claim that Zairil had abused his power by giving a contract to a private company.
Farid said while Zaidi has since retracted his statements and has apologised openly, Ravinder and Khoo have been given 14 days to retract the statements or face legal action for defamation.
Ravinder yesterday confirmed that he had received the letter of demand and said his lawyers will respond to it.
“This is a matter of public interest and freedom of speech,” he said.