Selangor MB sues The Malaysian Insider over Bank Islam deal allegation

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim filed a defamation suit in a High Court today against local news portal The Malaysian Insider for publishing two commentaries last month claiming he had partaken in a dubious out-of-court settlement with Bank Islam.

According to the letter of demand sighted by Malay Mail Online, Khalid claimed that the two articles — an English opinion piece titled “Going by Selangor ruler’s criteria, Khalid should quit as MB” and its Malay translation — had been slanderous and malicious.

The suit named The Malaysian Insider (TMI) CEO and editor Jahabar Sadiq, Malay news editor Amin Shah Iskandar, TMI owner The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd, and the site’s operator TMIDOTCOM Sdn Bhd as defendants.

Khalid is seeking an injunction and retraction of the articles published on July 24, in addition to an undisclosed amount in damages.

The letter by law firm BON Advocates said the articles had accused Khalid of reaching an out-of-court settlement through an illegal, unethical, immoral and corrupt method by using a “fixer”.

The articles also suggested Khalid was someone untrustworthy, dishonest, hypocritical and unethical among others; and therefore should resign as he does not deserve to be Selangor MB and does not fulfill the criteria set out by the Sultan of Selangor, said the letter.

In an alternate claim, Khalid accused TMI of slandering him through “false innuendo” by publishing a series of three commentary pieces between June 9 and July 24 this year.

Khalid also claimed that TMI had the malicious intent to remove him as MB through a series of nine “anti-Khalid” articles between June 9 and July 15, which were allegedly written to increase website hits and subsequently benefit it commercially.

He then alleged that the articles have affected his reputation as the MB, Pelabuhan Klang assemblyman and Bandar Tun Razak MP, among others.

TMI’s articles, which are still up on its site at the time of writing, accused Khalid of not administering Selangor in a “trustworthy, firm and responsible manner” as stipulated by the Selangor ruler.

In February, Khalid told Malay Mail Online he had reached an out-of-court settlement with Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd (BIMB) over a US$18.52 million (RM66.67 million) loan settlement suit, without compromising PKR or the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition.

The settlement has since been used by PKR as one of the six reasons why Khalid must step down from the MB post and be replaced by its president Datuk Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

PKR’s report noted that in March, a month after BIMB dropped its loan settlement suit against Khalid, two business deals worth hundreds of millions of ringgit were signed between the Selangor government and Eco World Berhad, a company controlled by Tan Sri Rashid Manaf, whom PKR said was an ex-lawyer of former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

In response, Khalid has since said last week he would write a letter to BIMB to seek its help to clear his name as the bank had also been mentioned in the reports.

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