Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In suing Sarawak Report, Hadi risks opening 1MDB can of worms

Updated one day ago · Published on 2 May 2017 6:59AM · 

By The Malaysian Insight · 

In suing Sarawak Report, Hadi risks opening 1MDB can of worms
Sarawak Report’s Clare Rewcastle-Brown at the Bersih rally in London on August 29, 2015. She refuses to comment on the PAS suit against her portal. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 2, 2017.
IN suing Sarawak Report’s Clare Rewcastle-Brown for libel in the High Court in London, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wants to stub out the allegation that he received a massive bribe from Prime Minister Najib Razak to compromise the Islamic party’s independence.

He may be successful in achieving the aim but in the process, the suit may provide a platform for fresh scrutiny on the alleged mismanagement and shenanigans at the scandal-hit state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Responding to questions from The Malaysian Insight, Rewcastle-Brown noted that since PAS has put the matter before the court in London, she has “put it in the hands of lawyers and it would be inappropriate to make comments at this stage”.

“There will be a response in due course,” she said.


Lawyers familiar with defamation said that if Rewcastle-Brown relies on the defence of justification, she would be entitled to sketch a complete picture of 1MDB, and this includes getting witnesses, including the prime minister to testify. 

They would expect her lawyers to lay down the complete story of the troubled state investor, including the trail of money and more.

In short, if Hadi’s suit is contested, this could be the first time that many of the layers of secrecy surrounding 1MDB may be stripped off in public.

In his suit, Hadi said his reputation had suffered seriously in England and Wales, Malaysia and Singapore as a result of an article in Sarawak Report titled “As Najibd denies all over 1MDB, let’s not forget his many other criminal connections”.
 
Among other things, the article alleged that Najib had wooed PAS away from the opposition by funnelling RM90 million to the top echelon of the Islamist party.

In their natural meaning, the words complained of meant that Hadi had personally accepted or approved PAS to accept the massive bribe from Najib in exchange for compromising the party’s political independence. 

It is the PAS president’s case that the publication of the article ‎damaged his standing as someone committed to the democratic process and to the tenets of Islam.

Rewcastle-Brown and the Sarawak Report received back-handed compliments in the particulars of the claim, with the website being described as a source of credible and reliable news about corruption in Malaysia.

But lawyers for Hadi have a reason for trumpeting Sarawak Report’s influence and reach. They need to establish that the offending article reached a wide spectrum of readers and was believed by many, increasing the likelihood that the PAS bigwig suffered serious damage to his reputation.

Hadi will rely on a number of Malaysians living in England to support his assertion that his reputation was seriously damaged in England and Wales.
Among them are:
* Dr Wan Ahmad Hilfi Wan Ahmad Junaidi, a general practitioner or GP of Malaysian origin, who has lived in England for 10 years.
* Jupri Bade, an engineer of Malaysian origin who has been living in the UK for 18 years.
* Dr Badrul Hisham Esa, a GP who has lived in the UK since 1992.
* Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin, blogger. He has been a resident in the UK since 2009.

Hadi is seeking general damages, including aggravated damages from Rewcastle-Brown. – May 2, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

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