KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 – A new judge has been assigned to hear a civil suit filed by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak against Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and an online news portal’s owner for allegedly defaming the Prime Minister over issues linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Justice Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim has been assigned to hear and decide the case after the previous judge, High Court Judicial Commissioner Roslan Abu Bakar, was transferred to Shah Alam.
On Friday, deputy registrar K. Pavani fixed May 24 for case management of the suit before the new judge.
Speaking to reporters after proceedings in chambers, Najib’s lawyer Nor Emelia Iszeham said they have to update the new judge on the outcome of a few cases pending in the appellate court, which is deciding on the issue of whether a public officer can sue for defamation in his personal capacity.
Pua wants to strike out the suit on grounds that Najib has no legal standing to sue for defamation as he is a public officer.
In his civil claim seeking damages and an apology, Najib said that Pua, 43, had delivered a speech at a DAP fund raising dinner on Nov 3, 2014 relating to 1MDB which slandered him.
Najib said the video footage of the speech was then uploaded by Media Rakyat owner Chan Chee Kong, 52, or his agents onto the portal’s webpage, YouTube channel and shared on its Facebook page.
Najib said Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary, had also re-published it on his own Facebook.
In his court papers filed on March 5, 2015, Najib, who sued both defendants in his personal capacity, said the words implied that he had abused his power as the chairman of the Board of Advisers of 1MDB for his personal gain, is not trustworthy and unfit to hold public office.