KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim filed a defamation lawsuit against Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor today over the latter’s statements during the recent 15th general election (GE15) campaign.
Anwar’s lawyer, Datuk Sankara N. Nair, confirmed to Malay Mail that the lawsuit was filed in the High Court in Alor Setar this afternoon seeking compensation from Muhammad Sanusi and for him to cease the alleged defamation.
In the lawsuit, Anwar claimed Sanusi had made the allegedly defamatory remarks in an election campaign speech around November 13 during the “PN Best Tambun Tour”, while supporting Perikatan Nasional’s Tambun candidate and then incumbent, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
According to the lawsuit, hundreds of individuals were said to have attended the political rally where Sanusi made the speech in Bahasa Malaysia.
Anwar said Sanusi’s allegedly defamatory speech had been broadcast directly to the public through a Facebook Live video via the Facebook account “Faizal Azumu”, and that the video has to date garnered more than 88,000 views and received 531 reactions, 58 shares and 384 comments.
Contents of Sanusi’s speech were also said to have been reported by news portal MalaysiaKini in two articles on November 14 in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.
In the offending speech, Sanusi urged Tambun voters to not vote for Anwar as an election candidate, and allegedly made false and defamatory remarks.
Anwar claimed the remarks were defamatory as they carried various meanings, including that Anwar did not obtain a royal pardon in accordance to procedure as a prisoner.
Anwar claimed that Sanusi’s remarks were untrue, baseless, and made maliciously to obtain cheap publicity for personal, political or electioneering gains.
In relation to Anwar’s second sodomy case for which he had been imprisoned, Anwar asserted that the royal pardon was lawfully granted to him in May 2018, claiming that Sanusi’s remarks was a brazen challenge against the royal pardon granted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Anwar said that such a full pardon from the Agong has the legal effect of exonerating him, where it would be as if he had never committed the offence.
Among other things, Anwar claimed that Sanusi’s remarks has tarnished his reputation as a respected Islamic leader in the Islamic world, and said it may cause world leaders to have adverse impressions of Anwar as Malaysia’s prime minister and finance minister.
Anwar said his reputation was damaged by Sanusi’s alleged defamatory remarks, and that he has as a result suffered severe mental distress, anxiety, and shame that would entitle him to compensation.
Anwar is seeking compensation from Sanusi in the form of general damages, compensatory damages, aggravated damages, exemplary damages, and an injunction or court order to stop Sanusi from further saying, writing, publishing or distributing the same or similar alleged defamatory remarks.
During GE15, Anwar was one of four candidates vying for the Tambun parliamentary seat in Perak. Anwar ultimately won the seat with 49,625 votes, with a 3,736 vote-majority over Faizal who garnered the second-highest number of votes at 45,889 votes.
Around Nov 16, Anwar’s lawyers had sent a legal demand for Sanusi to apologise, retract and promise not to repeat the alleged defamatory remarks and pay compensation.
Anwar noted Sanusi had, through the latter’s lawyers on December 7, replied and acknowledged that he had made the comments in the Facebook Live video. Anwar claimed that Sanusi had allegedly been reluctant to retract and apologise over those remarks.