KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister’s press secretary Datuk Seri Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad has applied to the High Court to strike out a defamation suit filed by Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir against him on grounds that it was unsustainable.
Mukhriz, 51 sued Tengku Sarifuddin, 54, for allegedly implying that he practised “dirty politics”.
On Thursday, Tengku Sarifuddin’s lead counsel Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos argued that the words complained of in four articles were not defamatory of the plaintiff (Mukhriz).
He said the civil action was an abuse of court process and it showed that Mukhriz had ulterior motive.
Jahaberdeen submitted that the articles were not defamatory as its statements did not cause Mukhriz to be ridiculed or odium.
“It is very clear and obvious,” he argued before Judicial Commissioner Roslan Abu Bakar in asking the court to strike out the libel suit.
Jahaberdeen said the court could strike out the suit as it had no reasonable cause of action, was frivolous, vexatious and scandalous.
Apart from that, Jahaberdeen said Mukhriz had failed to include particulars of malice in his claim and that this could enable his client’s defence of qualified privilege and fair comment to succeed.
“The moment the defence of qualified privilege and fair comment succeeds, the claim becomes obviously unsustainable,” added Jahaberdeen.
However, Mukhriz’s lead counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla argued that the court should resolve the action by way of full trial.
He submitted that the press statements by the defendant had in fact exposed Mukhriz to hatred, ridicule or contempt in the mind of right thinking members of the society.
“In ordinary meaning, the four statements had directly refer to the plaintiff as a man who had no moral. The plaintiff cannot be deprived of his right to have his day in court to call witnesses even if his case is not strong,” he said.
In elaborating, he said Tengku Sarifuddin has never tried to get explanation or confirmation from his client before publishing those statements.
He said his client had filed the action to protect his rights, dignity, integrity and reputation which was tarnished due to the publication of the press statements.
JC Roslan set Jan 6 next year to decide the application.
In his statement of defence filed on June 13, Tengku Sarifuddin said he had never defamed Mukhriz in any of his media statements seeking to clarify issues and untruths spread about the Prime Minister.
In his statement of claim filed on May 3 seeking for damages, Mukhriz claimed Tengku Sarifuddin had issued four libellous media statements between April 15 and April 26 against him.