Najib's lawyer: Status quo on WSJ lawsuit, what matters is Malaysians' thoughts on 1MDB

Lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not decided whether to sue or not to sue Wall Street Journal. — Reuters pic
Lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not decided whether to sue or not to sue Wall Street Journal. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — The prime minister has yet to file a lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) over its reports on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as it would be a futile move now, his lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said today.

Mohd Hafarizam also said the more important issue is the Malaysians’ own thoughts regarding 1MDB, noting that reports and statements from local authorities such as the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) have cleared the prime minister.

“What matters is the Malaysians, whether do you believe with all the PAC report, the AG and the MACC, that the PM is not involved.

“If you say you do not believe because the international media are saying otherwise, nothing much I can do,” he told reporters here, adding that it would show a mindset of continued colonisation with the belief that “the Americans, the British, the whites are far superior” than Malaysians.

Mohd Hafarizam said that Malaysians should not have to look to foreigners as the authority, when Malaysia had its own bipartisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament and its own laws.

With all the local reports and statements showing the prime minister was not involved in 1MDB, Mohd Hafarizam said he believed that Malaysians will be able to evaluate for themselves if WSJ reports or the local reports are true.

“Yes, international Wall Street Journal can go on and publish, but I believe Malaysians are smarter than Wall Street Journal,” he said.

The lawyer also reiterated that his client will not act against WSJ’s publisher until the latter confirms if it will invoke a US legal immunity against the enforcement of defamation suit decisions by courts outside the US.

“PM has not decided whether to sue or not to sue Wall Street Journal.

“But until and unless Wall Street Journal makes a stand on the SPEECH Act, we will not tell whether we are going to sue or not to sue. In other words, the matter is still kept in abeyance,” he said, using the acronym for a US federal law, Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act.

Explaining why going to the courts against the WSJ publisher in Malaysia — which does not have the SPEECH Act like the US — would be futile, Mohd Hafarizam said the prime minister’s legal teams would still have to go to the US courts to get any Malaysian judgment enforced.

“You go all the way to court, get your judgment, then you have to go to the American courts and say ‘please see if our judgment is at par with your courts’. That’s like making our court system subservient to their judicial system, isn’t it?” he asked.

WSJ publishers Dow Jones had previously said Najib’s lawyers request for clarification over their two articles last July were unnecessary.

According to the publisher, both the July 2 news report titled “Malaysia leader’s accounts probed” and the July 6 opinion piece titled “Scandal in Malaysia” spoke for themselves and were based on available facts. 

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