KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — The legal team representing Khairy Jamaluddin who is appealing against the defamation suit by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was censured in court today for delaying the hearing.
Datuk Lee Swee Seng, who chaired a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeal, told Khairy’s team that the appeal had been delayed too long since it was filed in 2018 and must be dealt with this year, no matter what.
“Rain or shine, fire or flood, pandemic or not, a co-counsel has to rise to the occasion,” Lee was quoted as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today.
He was responding to Khairy’s lawyer Sarah Abishegam who had earlier told the court that the lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is sick with rheumatoid arthritis and was suffering pain in the wrist and shoulder before asking for an adjournment to today’s virtual hearing.
Anwar’s lawyer J. Leela, told the court that her team had no objection to the postponement request.
Lee then told the appellant’s legal team that while the court is sympathetic over the health issues, it would only allow one final adjournment in the case.
The other two judges on the panel were Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Darryl Goon Siew Chye.
A new hearing date for the appeal will be set by the Court of Appeal Registry later.
The case in question is Khairy’s appeal over a defamation suit that Anwar initiated in 2008 against the minister who made insinuations about the Opposition leader’s morals and sexuality.
Anwar filed the suit on March 7, 2008 against the Khairy as the then Umno Youth deputy chief for allegedly uttering the words “main belakang” — a Malay euphemism for being a homosexual — during a ceramah in Lembah Pantai here on February 20, 2008.
The High Court ruled in Anwar’s favour on September 29, 2017 and ordered Khairy to pay RM150,000 in damages as well as RM60,000 in costs.
Khairy appealed the High Court decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed it in February 2018.
But Khairy took it up with the Federal Court which last December allowed the Umno politician’s challenge and sent the case back to be heard in the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal was scheduled to hear the merits of Khairy’s appeal against paying RM150,000 in damages to Anwar.