KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Utusan Malaysia has responded to Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s legal letter demanding an apology and withdrawal of a news report on a beer festival.
The letter by publisher Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad’s legal and secretarial department did not state, however, whether it admitted to the allegations in Azmin’s legal letter.
“The matters raised in your afore-said letter have been taken into our considerations and we shall revert to you in due course.
“We however wish to place on record that we do not make any admissions as to the allegations contained in your letter and reserve our right to respond to them appropriately,” the department said in a letter to Azmin’s lawyers.
On Tuesday, Azmin’s lawyers sent the letter of demand to Utusan Melayu’s editor and managing director in relation to two reports on the front page and fourth page of its September 25 edition.
The reports cited had carried the headlines of “Azmin Benar Pesta Arak — Tidak Hirau Amaran PDRM Mengenai Ancaman Pengganas” and “Azmin tidak kisah pesta arak di Selangor”.
Azmin’s lawyers said the allegations were “completely false, malicious and defamatory” of him, asserting that they were “calculated” to injure his reputation as a public figure and bring him into public scandal and contempt.
Azmin’s lawyers also demanded that Utusan publish a full retraction and apology on the front page of its paper, and on terms agreed to by Azmin.
They further sought Utusan’s undertaking to not publish the same or similar report, as well as to state the amount that it was prepared to compensate Azmin over the injury to his reputation.
Azmin’s lawyers gave Utusan 48 hours to reply on threat of a formal lawsuit.
Utusan’s legal and secretariat department received Azmin’s letter at 2.45pm on the same day the letter was issued.
The Utusan reports referred to are in relation to the Better Beer Festival which was initially planned to be held on October 6 and 7 in a mall in Kuala Lumpur, but has since seen its organiser’s application rejected by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) following protest from Islamist party PAS.
The festival, which would this year have featured 43 breweries worldwide of 250 types of craft beer, had been held annually in Malaysia for the past five years since it started in 2012.
On Sunday, Azmin was reported by national news agency Bernama as saying that the organiser of the upcoming Better Beer Festival has to comply with all regulations of the local authorities if it plans to relocate the Kuala Lumpur event to Selangor.
On Monday, Azmin’s aide Yin Shao Loong had accused Utusan of “false and dishonest reporting”, saying that it was a “utter lie” that Azmin had approved a beer festival and ignored police advice.