High Court defers decision on Ling application to strike out Najib defamation suit

KHAIRAH N. KARIM

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has deferred its decision on former transport minister Dr Ling Liong Sik's application to strike out a suit by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, pending the outcome of two Federal Court matters as to whether a public official has legal standing to sue an individual for defamation.


Ling's counsel Villie Nethi said the matter has been postponed awaiting the decision of two leave to appeal applications by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and DAP Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament, Chong Chieng Jen over the locus standi issue.


"We are waiting for the decision of Lim Guan Eng's case before the Federal Court which has been set for May 15.


"The issue dealt by the Federal Court is similar to this case which is on locus standi," she said after the matter came up in the chambers of judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin today.


The court has fixed May 29 for case management.


Najib's counsel Nik Alia Hanafi said the issue at the Federal Court is on whether a person holding a public office can sue an individual in his personal capacity.


Dr Ling filed the application on Feb 15, last year to strike out Najib's suit on grounds that the suit was an abuse of the court process and that it did not state a reasonable reason.


Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional president, filed the defamation suit on Oct 27, 2015 over Dr Ling's allegation that he (Najib) had "taken people's money" in relation to the RM2.6 billion donation issue.


In his statement of claim, Najib claimed that the former MCA president had falsely and maliciously made the libellous statement at an event at a university college here that was carried in an article on the news portal on Oct 3, 2015.


On July 18, last year, the court allowed Najib's application to set aside the affidavit of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that was filed in support of Dr Ling's application to strike out the suit.