KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Sungai Besar Umno division chief Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos has sought the Inspector-General of Police, his predecessor, and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as his witnesses in a defamation suit.
Jamal’s lawyer, Mohammed Nasser Yusof, explained why his client had sought to subpoena IGP Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun and former IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to be defence witnesses.
“The current IGP is the former Secret Branch director, so the plaintiff’s arrest under SOSMA last year, we ask for documents to be presented due to questions that we wish to raise,” he told reporters when met at court today, referring to polls reform group Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah who sued Jamal.
“For the former IGP, it’s over his capacity in giving statements in documents that have already been included in both sides’ documents,” he added.
V. Mugunthan, another lawyer who appeared for Jamal today, explained that Khalid previously said Maria would not have been arrested without evidence.
“He had actually made a statement that he wouldn’t have arrested a respectable mother without having solid evidence, so we want to inquire what evidence they would have.
“Tun Mahathir has made statements that Bersih is indeed a violent organisation and also in 1987 when Tun Mahathir was home minister, he had arrested Maria Chin’s husband under the Internal Security Act,” he said, adding that Jamal’s lawyers wanted to know the reason for the arrest.
“So it’s quite relevant to our case because our statement was Bersih has links to IS and Daesh so they are suing us for that, so we are trying to establish our defence of fair comment and justification,” he said.
Senior federal counsel Habibah Haron filed an application to set aside Jamal’s subpoena of Fuzi, and High Court judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab fixed to hear this on November 10.
The judge reminded lawyers in court that witnesses are only meant to prove facts, saying: “It’s not the role of witnesses to give opinions.”
Jamal’s lawyers said they are also calling the Kuala Selangor district police chief to testify over a scuffle between the Red Shirts and Bersih 2.0 there during the latter’s roadshow last year, while Jamal would also seek to subpoena Johor lawyer Hassan Karim due to his role as student activist decades ago.
They confirmed that, currently, only one of those subpoenaed applied to set aside the court order to appear in court.
Jamal’s lawyers said they are expecting a total of six witnesses including their client, while Maria’s lawyers are expected to call three witnesses to testify for the plaintiff.
Today was initially set for the hearing of Maria’s defamation suit against Jamal for linking her group to the Islamic State (IS) terror group, but it has been rescheduled to January 15 to January 19 as the High Court had to continue hearing an unrelated lawsuit.
In her lawsuit filed on October 7, Maria claimed that Jamal had last September 28 defamed Bersih during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre area and had last October 4 made similar remarks at another press conference at the Bukit Aman police headquarters compound.
He allegedly claimed that the Bersih 2.0 movement was infiltrated by IS and accused it of plotting to surround two international airports and key government buildings.
Maria, who said his alleged remarks had tarnished her reputation and good name, sought for compensation and a court order to stop Jamal from uttering or publishing similar defamatory remarks.
Today, Maria said she was looking forward to the defamation suit hearing, as it would allow Bersih 2.0 to clear its name and prove that the allegations against it were false.
“The agenda of Bersih is about clean and fair elections and about democracy in this country for our future. So that is the only agenda that we have and we are definitely against violence, threats that are made to people and also harassment.
“So we also want to say when we talk about democracy, we are talking about peaceful expression, peaceful assembly and peaceful association,” she said.
Jamal, who was also present, said Maria has a democratic right to sue him and noted that he similarly has a right to defend himself in the case.