Terengganu Sultanah sues Sarawak Report editor for defamation in 1MDB book

Ida Lim


Author and journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown poses at the launch of ‘The Sarawak Report’ book in Petaling Jaya September 8, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — The Terengganu Sultanah has filed a defamation lawsuit against Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown over allegations in a book on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, the royal’s lawyer confirmed today.

Lawyer Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay Abdullah said the lawsuit was filed this afternoon against Rewcastle-Brown, her book publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd.

“We filed it at the Kuala Lumpur High Court,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.

He confirmed that all three sued by his client had not complied with any of the demands in the letter of demand sent to them.

Although Mohd Haaziq did not reveal how much was being sought in the lawsuit, his client had previously asked for RM100 million in compensation in the letter of demand.

Late in September, the legal letter was sent to the trio with an eight-day deadline for a written apology and retraction of the allegedly defamatory statements, as well as a demand that they stop selling and circulating the book.

Mohd Haaziq had on September 29 told Malay Mail that failure to comply would result in a lawsuit seeking RM100 million in damages, but stressed that any sum awarded would go towards charity.

The lawyer previously highlighted the alleged defamatory statements as those found on page three of Rewcastle-Brown’s book titled The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé, which he alleged to have caused “distress, embarrassment and injury” to the Terengganu Sultanah’s reputation.

The lawyer previously claimed the statements meant or implied that the Sultanah was involved in corrupt practices, or was associated or had close ties with Low Taek Jho otherwise known as Jho Low, or was able to influence the Terengganu state administration.

Mohd Haaziq asserted that the Terengganu Sultanah was “never involved” with the establishment of 1MDB’s precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), and had never supported Jho Low in obtaining an advisory role in TIA, and “does not know Jho Low and her knowledge of him is based on media reports”.

Sarawak Report had on September 27 apologised if the Terengganu Sultanah had been “upset by any misinterpretations” of the book’s content, clarifying that it did not suggest that the Terengganu Sultanah conspired with Jho Low or was personally involved in 1MDB or its precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).

Sarawak Report had also then claimed that a careful reading of the cited passage would make it clear that there was no allegation made against anyone in the Terengganu royal family about the 1MDB affair, which took place after Terengganu’s involvement in the fund ceased.

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