Don’t be ridiculous, Mr PM – just sue!

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The Prime Minister is being ridiculous. Instead of going ahead and suing The Wall Street Journal for allegedly defaming him, he is seeking clarification and confirmation from the WSJ. This is unheard of!

In pursuing or mounting defamation suits, the aggrieved party files a writ against the offending party straightaway after an offer to apologise and retract is rejected by the alleged offender either in writing or through lapse of time. The offer usually stipulates the manner of the apology as well as the scope of publication.

If clarification is needed as to what is meant or stated, this is obtained in the course of the court proceedings by posing the necessary questions to elicit the required responses.

In a strange reaction claiming that the WSJ had denigrated him unfairly, he is seeking to get the WSJ to admit to things it had never stated or implied.

In their report, the WSJ did not accuse him of “misusing US$700m (RM2.6bn) of Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds,” as claimed by the PM.

The WSJ did not make “allegations linking him to embezzlement of funds from Malaysia Development Berhad,” as stated by the Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (theSun, 9 July 2015).

As far as we can recall, the WSJ did not disclose the original source of the funds that were channelled into the PM’s personal account. There was also no mention as to what happened to the money after it went into the PM’s personal account.

This fact is even acknowledged by his lawyers when they stated in their letter to the WSJ “you are unsure of the original source of the money and what happened to the money”.

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There was no mention of misappropriation, embezzlement or misuse of that money by the PM in the WSJ’s reporting.

All that the reporting did, according to this lawyer’s letter to the WSJ, was that “the general gist of the articles create (sic) a clear impression that our client has misappropriated about US$700m belonging to 1MDB.”

In other words, there was no outright accusation of misappropriation on the part of the PM – only an impression purportedly created in the minds of Malaysians!

The PM had stated “his lawyers will initiate legal action against the Wall Street Journal once the paper confirms that it stands by its articles”.

But the WSJ had already stated categorically that it stood by its reporting. This bold stand on the part of the WSJ is sufficient confirmation that it is not wavering from what was reported. The WSJ is sticking to its guns. It even released details to show the flow of the money into the PM’s private account.

Mr PM, you must defend your honour and safeguard the dignity of the nation. As citizens of Malaysia, we are obliged to stand by you to uphold the integrity of your office and the moral high ground of the nation in the international context.

You can count on the support of all Malaysians if there was no truth in what was published. If the reporting was false, that would be tantamount to malicious reporting! This, we cannot tolerate.

Will you, then, institute a defamation suit immediately without dragging your feet. We are not only talking about your honour. The nation’s honour is at stake and it is of paramount importance to us as citizens.

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P Ramakrishnan
Aliran Executive Committee Member
11 July 2015

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