KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has filed a lawsuit against Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saying that the former prime minister’s remarks about him are defamatory and malicious.
Malaysian media reported that the suit is in regard to Dr Mahathir’s comments that Ahmad Zahid had sought his help to get his corruption charges dropped.
The UMNO leader filed his statement of claim on Apr 20 at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, seeking an injunction to stop Dr Mahathir from repeating his remarks.
The Star reported that the suit was scheduled for case management before High Court deputy registrar Nor Afidah Idris on Wednesday (Apr 27).
Citing the court document, the Star said that Dr Mahathir uttered the alleged defamatory statements at an event by Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) in connection with the Johor state election at Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana in Putrajaya on Feb 23.
According to the document, Dr Mahathir claimed that Ahmad Zahid came to his home with two or three others just after the 14th General Election in 2018, before the former was sworn in as prime minister for the second time.
"The plaintiff pleads that the defendant had uttered the defamatory statements with malice and placed the plaintiff in a public scandal, therefore inciting hate from the public against the plaintiff," the document stated, as reported by the Star.
Ahmad Zahid said the malicious statements were untrue, unwarranted, unsubstantiated and mischievous.
He further said that the alleged statements were meant to say that he was a person who could use "shortcuts" to resolve his ongoing criminal cases.
They also meant to say that he was a dishonest and untruthful person, and that he had sought the help of the prime minister to interfere with his ongoing court cases, among others, added Ahmad Zahid, according to the Star report.
Ahmad Zahid also denied meeting the Pejuang chairman to discuss his corruption trial.
"The plaintiff has never met with the defendant in relation to any court cases against the plaintiff or any investigations by government agencies against the plaintiff," stated Ahmad Zahid in the court document.
Currently, the former deputy prime minister and Bagan Datuk member of parliament is facing two ongoing court cases.
Ahmad Zahid is standing trial on 47 charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgits from his Yayasan Akalbudi foundation and for accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.
He also faces 40 charges of receiving bribes amounting to RM42 million in connection with the overseas visa system.
According to the court document, the UMNO leader is also seeking an apology from the Pejuang leader, damages, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said that he stands by his remarks that Ahmad Zahid had sought his help to get his corruption cases dropped.
In a statement on Wednesday, his lawyer Mior Hadir said that the former prime minister would contest Ahmad Zahid’s defamation suit against him.
“Dr Mahathir denies all claims made by the plaintiff (Ahmad Zahid). We would like to inform all that our client is firm that his remarks were the truth,” the lawyer was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.
“Dr Mahathir also reserves his right to file a counterclaim before the court in the future.”
Last month, Ahmad Zahid filed a similar suit against former prime minister and chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Muhyiddin Yassin, who is said to have made a similar claim during the Johor election campaign.