KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The lawyers representing Klang MP Charles Santiago said today their client has done nothing wrong to cause televangelist Dr Zakir Naik to sue him for defamation.
The firm Messrs SN Fam and Co also said their client has the right to raise any available defence, should Dr Zakir’s legal team seek to pursue the suit any further.
In a copy of the letter sent to Messrs Akberdin and Co sighted by Malay Mail, Charles’ lawyers stated their client’s alleged defamatory statements made at the public forum regarding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Monday are “fair and bonafide comments on matters of public interest”.
“As an elected Member of Parliament, our client has a duty and is obliged to voice out in respect of national issues, including matters relating to the decisions made by the government of Malaysia and/or any public authorities,” read the letter.
Referring to Charles’s remarks over the recent arrest of two DAP assemblymen under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the timing of the arrests on the eve of the 2020 Budget, his lawyers said this is an expression of their client’s opinion.
“The statement by our client on the use of Sosma as a tool to punish those who spoke against Zakir Naik and arrest the two DAP assemblymen was in fact questioning the decision made by the authorities in using the draconian Act.
“Reading the statements made by our client in totality and not selectively, our client as a Member of Parliament is questioning the authorities in relation to the process of investigation, failure by the police to produce any evidence, and the justification of the said arrest under Sosma,” said the lawyers.
They added that Charles ‘vehemently’ denies that his statements are defamatory in nature, and made without malice as it relates to matters of public interest.
“Our clients stand by the statements made by him, and does not see the necessity of an apology in the matter herein,” the lawyers said.
The notice papers for the suit by Dr Zakir against Charles was delivered yesterday, in which the MP was being held accountable for a media statement made on August 13 calling for the Cabinet to discuss Dr Zakir’s interference in Malaysian politics, as well as his remarks at Monday’s forum.