KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced he is giving Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seven days to either provide proof or withdraw what he described as defamatory allegations against him.
Dr Mahathir, who has been prime minister twice, singled out a speech by Anwar during the PKR congress earlier this month where the latter accused him of having billions in ringgit and distributing it to his family and children and had also alleged him to be a “scoundrel”.
Dr Mahathir said that while Anwar had not specifically named him in the speech, it was widely understood by the public who the PM meant.
“This gives a very bad impression on me, it is slander, unless he can show proof that I had billions of ringgit and channelled that money overseas and I don't pay tax. Many allegations were made in this speech, and although I have heard similar remarks which he made in the past, but at that time he was not prime minister.
“Now he is prime minister, and prime ministers have the responsibility to not simply make such accusations without any clear proof. That's why today I decided to demand for the retraction of the slander that was hurled by Datuk Seri Anwar towards me. I give him seven days' time to retract and do a few events to show he does not believe what he said,” the 97-year-old said in a press conference today.
“Because of that I wrote to him to retract his statement or show proof whether what he accused is correct. If there is no reply in seven days' time, I will take any actions which are allowed by the country's laws,” he said.
Dr Mahathir was asked if legal action would be taken against anyone else who repeats Anwar remarks.
He replied that currently, action will only be taken against Anwar as the allegations made were very serious “coming from a prime minister”.
“At the moment, we have not done anything. This is a test case, because the problem is the same. But in the case of Anwar, he is the prime minister, so he is more credible. Other people may say a lot of things but they are not taken seriously.
“But Anwar has said this in a meeting to his members accusing me of running away with money, of not paying my income tax and all that, that is very serious, coming from a prime minister. That is why we are taking action,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said his letter of demand (LOD) was sent to Anwar's office yesterday.
When contacted, Dr Mahathir's lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali confirmed the LOD was served on Anwar in the afternoon yesterday.
He also told Malay Mail that the seven-day period started yesterday.
In the LOD dated March 27 and sighted by Malay Mail, Dr Mahathir claimed the defamatory parts of Anwar's speech at the special PKR national congress 2023 held on March 18, which was streamed “live” on Anwar's own Facebook account.
Dr Mahathir said video clips of Anwar's speech have been featured on social media, adding that the PKR president’s remarks had also been reported by the media.
He denied Anwar's allegations as untrue.
Dr Mahathir said Anwar’s remarks had damaged his image as a statesman who was a two-time prime minister with a reputation as a respected leader.
Dr Mahathir told Anwar to retract his statements made against him in the PKR congress speech immediately as well as ensure the immediate removal of his remarks from all social media platforms and media outlets.
Dr Mahathir also demanded that Anwar make an unconditional and public written apology to him and to give an undertaking not to make any further statements touching on his integrity and reputation.
The last demand in the LOD was for Anwar to hold a special press conference for the apology and an undertaking to Dr Mahathir within seven days.
If Anwar fails to comply, Dr Mahathir said he would initiate legal proceedings against Anwar to claim for compensation and an injunction, among other things.