KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Berjaya Corporation Berhad founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Berjaya Land Berhad has slapped a defamation lawsuit against caretaker Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, seeking compensation over his remarks in an August 2 speech in relation to land in Selangor.
In the lawsuit filed at 6.31pm on August 8 at the High Court in Shah Alam, both Tan and Berjaya Land are seeking for the court to order Sanusi to pay compensation in the form of general damages, compensatory damages, aggravated damages, and exemplary damages.
Tan and Berjaya Land are also seeking for the High Court to issue an injunction to restrain or stop Sanusi from making the same or similar defamatory remarks against them.
Previously, Tan and Berjaya Land had on August 5 served a legal letter to Sanusi, giving him a deadline by the close of business on August 8 to fulfill several demands, including to agree to pay RM200 million as compensation, to publish a public apology and to remove the defamatory remarks.
Pierre Chuah & Associates, the law firm representing Tan and Berjaya Land, had in that letter dated August 4 said that failure to comply with the demands by the deadline would result in legal action being taken.
According to Tan and Berjaya Land, Sanusi had via his lawyers’ letter on August 8 replied, but refused or failed to comply with the demands.
In the defamation lawsuit filed by Tan and Berjaya Land, they said Sanusi had made the alleged defamatory remarks during an election campaign speech on August 2 at the “Jelajah Mega PN Best” event or “PN Best Sayangi Kedah Sejahtera mega tour” at Dataran Darulaman, Jitra, Kedah.
They said Sanusi’s speech was broadcasted to the public through videos streamed live by news portal Astro Awani on Youtube and Facebook and by TV PAS on Facebook, and that it was also shared on news outlet Malaysiakini’s KiniTV on Youtube.
Both Tan and Berjaya Land denied the allegations made by Sanusi in his August 2 speech as “completely untrue”.
Tan and Berjaya Land claimed that Sanusi’s remarks had defamed them with allegations carrying the meaning to imply that they are corrupt and had purportedly obtained 600 acres of land from the Selangor state government for “free” and which purportedly resulted in the Selangor state government incurring losses of at least RM180 million.
Reiterating Berjaya Land’s detailed August 4 point-by-point rebuttal of Sanusi’s claims, Tan and Berjaya Land in the lawsuit again said both of them were never given any 600 acres of land for free, and also stressed that the Selangor state government did not incur RM180 million in losses for giving away such land for free.
Instead, Tan and Berjaya Land said that only 103.6 acres of land were alienated to Landasan Lumayan Berjaya Sdn Bhd (LLBSB), a joint venture company formed through the Selangor state government’s Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated’s (MBI) subsidiary Landasan Lumayan Sdn Bhd (45 per cent share in LLBSB) and Berjaya Land’s subsidiary Berjaya Hartanah Berhad (55 per cent share).
Tan and Berjaya Land also said the 103.6 acres of land was not alienated for free, and that the joint venture firm LLBSB has to pay RM113.1 million in premiums at the current market rate valued by government valuer Valuation and Property Services Department.
They also said it is Berjaya Land and its related companies that have to raise the funds for LLBSB to pay the RM113.1 million land premiums to the Selangor state government.
Among other things, when arguing for compensation, the court papers highlighted that Tan’s Berjaya Corporation Berhad (BCorp) is a public listed firm and that it is the parent company of Berjaya Land which is also a public listed company, and that Sanusi’s remarks would cause financial losses to BCorp’s 67,367 shareholders and Berjaya Land’s 7,053 shareholders.
Berjaya Land and Tan said they both have an unblemished reputation and are highly respected both locally and internationally.
Berjaya Land and Tan together with their related companies said they have a total combined revenue of RM33.3 billion, and that Sanusi’s alleged slanderous and false statements threaten their business ties and could harm their reputation and potentially cause them hundreds of millions in losses.
Tan claimed that Sanusi’s alleged slanderous remarks had caused unnecessary anxiety and concern for him and his family who must now live with the “baseless stigma attached to these allegations”, and that he is entitled to claim aggravated and exemplary damages due to the resulting anxiety and severe mental stress.
Both Tan and Berjaya Land claim that Sanusi had made the alleged defamatory remarks with total disregard to the truth, also claiming that he had done so maliciously and that he was allegedly motivated by bad motives and to gain cheap publicity for personal gains or electioneering gains.
Based on online court listings, the case is scheduled to come up for case management on September 4.
Previously on August 7, Tan and Berjaya Land were reported to have lodged police reports against Sanusi and several bloggers over their alleged defamatory remarks which were claimed to possibly be an offence of criminal defamation under Section 499 of the Penal Code.
Last night, caretaker Selangor menteri besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said his lawyers had at 7.36pm that day served his letter of demand on Sanusi over the latter’s alleged defamatory remarks in the same August 2 speech in Jitra, Kedah.
In Amirudin’s legal letter, he gave a 48-hour deadline to Sanusi to comply with four demands, namely to publish a retraction of the remarks and apology; to give a written promise to not repeat the same or similar defamatory remarks; to pay RM10 million compensation, and to indemnify Amirudin for RM100,000 in legal costs.
Amirudin yesterday said that he will proceed to take legal action in court if Sanusi fails to comply with the demands within 48 hours.