Najib drops 1MDB defamation suit against Tony Pua, portal owner

Ida Lim
When contacted, lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun confirmed that Datuk Seri Najib Razak terminated the lawsuit against DAP MP Tony Pua with ‘no liberty to file afresh’. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak withdrew today his 2015 defamation lawsuit against DAP MP Tony Pua and a news portal owner over remarks on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

When contacted, Najib's lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun confirmed that his client terminated the lawsuit with “no liberty to file afresh”.

“The withdrawal is upon myself advising my client and having had the advice, has instructed me to do so.

“All other terms are not to be disclosed as agreed by parties in Chambers today,” he told Malay Mail.

The case today was before High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim.

Pua's lawyer, Michelle Ng, said the case had initially been scheduled for a decision today and clarification on her client's application to strike out the lawsuit.

“However, the plaintiff Datuk Seri Najib Razak has decided to withdraw his suit without liberty to file afresh,” she told Malay Mail, also saying it was agreed in chambers before Ahmad Zaidi that the other terms of the lawsuit withdrawal would not be disclosed.

On March 5, 2015, Najib, who was then the prime minister, had filed the defamation lawsuit in his personal capacity against Pua and portal owner, Chan Chee Kong.

Najib had claimed that Pua defamed him in November 2014 with remarks linking him to 1MDB, which he asserted were defamatory, inferred he had robbed the public via the state investment firm’s dealings, and suggested he was not fit for office.

The recording of the remarks Pua allegedly made as the main speaker of a DAP fundraising dinner was uploaded by Chan or his agents on the Mediarakyat website and on video-sharing site YouTube with a defamatory heading, Najib had claimed.

Among other things, Najib had sought compensation over the alleged damage to his reputation.

Pua's speech on November 3, 2014 was uploaded online as a video bearing the title “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”.

On May 22, Najib withdrew a separate defamation lawsuit against former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik over alleged remarks that he had allegedly abused public funds under 1MDB for his personal interest.

Najib's withdrawal of the lawsuit against Dr Ling was also done with the condition that it could not be filed again, with Mohd Hafarizam then saying he had advised his client to discontinue the suit after a change in the country's political landscape and also due to there being more important matters to attend to.

In the 14th general election, the Barisan Nasional coalition then led by Najib lost federal power for the first time.

The police have since then carried out raids and seized cash and luxury goods at properties linked to Najib ― including his private residence ― as part of its investigations into 1MDB.