Ex-Sabah Umno rep sues army general, dailies over reports of ‘arrest’ for suspected armed intrusion

Datuk Ramlee Marahaban (right) and lawyer Marcel Jude after they submitted their writ of summons April 23, 2019. — Malay Mail pic
Datuk Ramlee Marahaban (right) and lawyer Marcel Jude after they submitted their writ of summons April 23, 2019. — Malay Mail pic

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KOTA KINABALU, April 23 — Former Umno state assistant minister Datuk Ramlee Marahaban is suing the State army general for defamation after the latter issued a statement and photographs of the “arrest” for suspected armed intrusion last April 11.

The former Bugaya assemblyman named Joint Task Force 2 Commander Brigadier General Datuk Zarondin Md Amin as his first defendant. He is also suing Harian Metro and its publisher New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad for carrying the statement and named them 2nd and 3rd defendent respectively.

“The statement released to the press and social media by the brigadier general was made maliciously with intent to inflict maximum damage and destroy our reputation especially mine since I was previously an assemblyman and ex-minister,” said Ramlee in a statement.

He was referring to the official statement given by the army that a group of armed men without identification being detained near the waters of Sitangkai, Philippines heading towards Mataking Island in Sabah and were taken to the Semporna police station.

“The story presented was a half truth and made with intention to portray those of us involved, including myself as terrorists, gun runners, outlaws engaged in treacherous and treasonous activities,” he said.

In his writ of summons, he said that the army also released a photograph of the group — Ramlee and his son and nephews with security forces appearing “like criminals in a line up.”

“The publication of the photographs are not only subject to the laws of confidentiality, Official Secrets Act and other internal security but has also done great serious irreparable damage to the plaintiff as it went viral in Facebook, WhatsApp and social media,” it said.

He is asking for the court to issue an injunction restraining further publication of the matter, exemplary and general damages, costs and statutory interest.

The writ was filed by lawyer Marcel Jude.

Ramlee, who admitted it was his fault for not bringing any identification along on his fishing and recce trip, said that the initial detainment was quickly settled by the police and Esscom who recognised him.

But he said the publication of the press statement and photograph after in Harian Metro was “further twisted and grossly misappropriated” to do further damage, and the article was subsequently picked up by other news outlets and portals.

He said that his initial request for an apology and a retraction was denied by all three defendants.

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