KUALA LUMPUR (March 17): Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has stressed that he had no malicious intent and did not slander Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when speaking during the "Jelajah PN (Perikatan Nasional) Best Tambun" election campaign last year.
Muhammad Sanusi, 48, in his statement of defence in response to the PM's defamation suit, said he was merely criticising Anwar during campaigning for the 15th general election.
"As a politician, the plaintiff should have the courage to take responsibility for the facts that I stated, and not be offended by the comments, suggestions and criticisms made by me and the community," said the Kedah PN chairman in the statement filed through Messrs Yusfarizal Aziz & Zaid on Feb 13.
On Jan 11, the Alor Setar High Court ordered the Kedah menteri besar to file a statement of defence in response to the defamation suit by Feb 13.
Anwar filed the suit on Dec 13 last year over Muhammad Sanusi’s speech during the election campaign accusing the Pakatan Harapan chairman of immoral behaviour.
Muhammad Sanusi also asserted that he was only carrying out his responsibilities and freedom of expression provided under the Federal Constitution, not unlike the plaintiff who criticised and made accusations against opposing parties during the election campaign.
"Thus, the speech gave a different point of view, and the criticisms made against the plaintiff were supported by facts and true records related to him that should not be blocked and subjected to legal action," he added.
Meanwhile, replying to the defence statement on March 13, Anwar stressed that the defendant's right to freedom of expression is not absolute and subject to various restrictions, adding that political talks are included in the provisions under the Defamation Act 1957.
According to Anwar, Muhammad Sanusi uttered the slanderous statements to voters in Tambun, which is not the defendant's constituency.
Anwar, 75, in his statement of claim, said that on Nov 13, 2022, Muhammad Sanusi gave a speech at a talk in support of the PN candidate for the Tambun parliamentary seat, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, with hundreds of visitors in attendance.
Anwar said the speech had been published or caused to be republished and broadcast live on Facebook under the name "Faizal Azumu", which received more than 88,000 views, 531 reactions, 58 shares and 384 comments, as of the date of filing the suit.
The PKR president claimed that on Nov 14, defamatory statements from the video were quoted by Malaysiakini, and were published in an article in Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Kedah MB Sanusi ordered to file defence to Anwar’s defamation suit