KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has lost his appeal against the defamation suit filed 14 years ago by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in relation to a statement made during a political rally.

According to a report by local daily The Star, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya chaired by Justice Lee Swee Seng saw no “appealable error” made by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur back in 2017.

Khairy’s appeal was dismissed and he was reportedly ordered to pay RM50,000 in costs to Anwar.

In 2008, during a political rally, then-Umno Youth chief Khairy uttered the words “main belakang” — Malay for “playing from behind” — in relation to Anwar.

Anwar filed the defamation suit soon after, arguing that the words uttered by Khairy were defamatory, and implied that Anwar went against Islam and was unfit to hold political positions.

In 2017, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in Anwar’s favour and ordered Khairy to pay RM150,000 in damages.

Khairy appealed the High Court decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed it in February 2018.

Khairy took it up with the Federal Court, which in December 2020 allowed the Umno politician’s challenge and sent the case back to be heard in the Court of Appeal.