Infantile to sue your critics, says veteran newsmen over Najib lawsuits
Published: 8 December 2014
For Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, a politician should answer criticism in the Parliament. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 8, 2014.
Politicians who sue their critics are "infantile" and should instead use the Parliament or the state assembly to defend their policies, veteran newsman Datuk A. Kadir Jasin wrote today, in a reference to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief today blogged about the legal notices Najib had sent to two Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua (DAP) and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli (PKR), over their criticism on the government's sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and the fuel subsidy policy.
"I had not wanted to comment on Najib's action simply because I find politicians suing each other as infantile," Kadir wrote in a blog posting.
But Kadir said he felt compelled to put things in perspective after former prime minister Tun Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad's recent remarks that he had never resorted to suing his critics.
"Damn him or praise him, he is in his own class" Kadir said of Dr Mahathir.
"I believe that politicians, especially the elected ones, should use the Parliament and state legislative assemblies to sort things out and to convince the people.
"As elected representatives they make laws. They are their custodians. The courts merely interpret the laws they made.
"By resorting to the courts, the politicians are admitting that they can no longer defend themselves politically," Kadir wrote.
Last month, Najib sent a letter of demand to Pua over the lawmaker’s “defamatory” remarks against him about sovereign fund 1MDB, which caused the prime minister “tremendous stress and embarrassment”.
Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun demanded Pua to publish a retraction and apology within 14 days in two national newspapers, or face legal action for his speech recorded in the November 3 video, “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”.
Pua was also told to remove the video from the Internet, stop further defamatory statements, and pay Najib for the damages over his remarks.
This was followed by a legal notice from law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak to Rafizi last Thursday over a video on his Facebook page, criticising the government's removal of petrol subsidies.
Najib has also sued news portal Malaysiakini for publishing readers' comments critical of him.
Kadir said Najib had now given a young politician like Rafizi "bragging rights" with the threatened lawsuit.
Rafizi had said that he was "proud to be sued by a prime minister for defending the rights of the public to receive fuel subsidy of at least 30 sen per litre”.
Kadir said Najib, 61, should be "picking fights" with people of his own age and stature, noting that Rafizi was 34 while Pua was 42.
Kadir said Najib taking legal action against Pua and Rafizi reminded him of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim making a police report over the Ummi Hafilda letter back in 1997.
"The letter was considered a 'surat layang' and a 'fitnah' (slander) until Anwar, on the advice of his lawyers, made a police report.
"Overnight what was considered by many, including Dr Mahathir, as a 'fitnah' became a legal document that eventually resulted in Anwar’s downfall," Kadir noted.
Similarly, Kadir warned that Najib's legal action against Pua and Rafizi could turn out to be a double-edged sword.
"He is taking his spat with the young PR leaders away from the political sphere and into the legal arena. He is joining the crowd of desperate Malaysian politicians who are using the law to muzzle their adversaries and, along the way, make some pocket money."
Kadir said the prime minister was better off trusting voters than lawyers. – December 8, 2014.
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