Lawyer: Terengganu Sultanah wants RM100m compensation from Sarawak Report over defamatory reports

Lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay speaks at a press conference over a lawsuit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, September 29, 2018. — Picture by Abdul Razak Ghazali
Lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay speaks at a press conference over a lawsuit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, September 29, 2018. — Picture by Abdul Razak Ghazali

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The Terengganu Sultanah is seeking RM100 million as compensation over allegedly defamatory statements in Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown’s book on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, and will sue her if she does not apologise in eight days, the Terengganu royalty’s lawyer has said.

Lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said a legal letter had been sent to Rewcastle-Brown and two others, adding that failure by the trio to comply within eight days will result in a lawsuit seeking RM100 million in damages.

“If they don’t comply, we will claim RM100 million, but what the court will give is based on damages to be proven,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.

“Any amount that the Terengganu Sultanah receives will all go to charity,” he said.

Mohd Haaziq said the letter of demand was served on September 27 on local publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd, as well as Rewcastle-Brown the same day via the two companies and on September 28 at the British High Commission as she is a British citizen.

He said the eighth day will be October 5, which means the lawsuit would be filed anytime from October 6 onwards.

Mohd Haaziq said the legal letter sought for Rewcastle-Brown to give a “full written unequivocal public retraction and written apology” in terms to be approved by the Terengganu Sultanah’s lawyers, as well as to give an undertaking not to repeat the alleged defamatory statements.

He said the legal letter also demanded that the publisher and printer do the same within the eight-day period, as well as to stop selling and circulating the book.

Also contained in the legal letter was the demand for RM100 million in compensation, he said.

Mohd Haaziq was referring to Rewcastle-Brown’s recently-launched book titled The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé.

Mohd Haaziq said the alleged defamatory statements were those carried on page three of the book, claiming that those statements were unjustified and had elements of insult.

The lawyer claimed that the statements meant or could be understood to mean that the Terengganu Sultanah was involved in corrupt practices, or was associated or had close ties with Low Taek Jho otherwise known as Jho Low, or was able to influence the Terengganu state administration.

But Mohd Haaziq asserted that the Terengganu Sultanah was “never involved” with the establishment of 1MDB’s precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), and had never supported Jho Low in obtaining an advisory role in TIA, and “does not know Jho Low and her knowledge of him is based on media reports”.

He said the statements on page three of the book had caused “distress, embarrassment and injury” to the Terengganu Sultanah’s reputation.

On September 14, the Terengganu Royal Council of Regency issued a statement denying the Sultanah’s involvement in any government administrative affairs and in particular, the establishment of the TIA.

Sarawak Report had on September 27 issued a statement where it apologised if the Terengganu Sultanah had been “upset by any misinterpretations” of the book’s content, but Mohd Haaziq yesterday said such remarks do not amount to an apology.

Among other things, Sarawak Report had on September 27 clarified that the book does not suggest that the Terengganu Sultanah conspired with Jho Low or was personally involved in 1MDB or its precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).

Sarawak Report had also then said a careful reading of the short allegedly offending passage in the book should make it clear that there was no allegation made against anyone in the Terengganu royal family about the 1MDB affair, which took place after Terengganu’s involvement in the fund ceased.

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