Crime & Courts

Defamation suit: Dr M's unwell, hearing postponed

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's defamation trial against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who questioned his racial origins has been postponed due to the former prime minister's health condition.

During today's proceedings before Justice Commissioner Gan Techiong, Dr Mahathir's lawyer Mior Nor Haidir Suhaimi informed the court that the former prime minister had been given a medical leave by the National Heart Institute (IJN) from Jan 26 until this Sunday.

"We request the justice commissioner to adjourn today's trial and the court anticipates an early trial date (after the adjournment) due to the plaintiff's advanced age.

"The court then scheduled the trial for July 19; Aug 26 and 27; and Oct 29 and 30, while the trial scheduled for today until Friday is postponed.

"We will present two witnesses, namely Dr Mahathir and his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz, to testify in the trial," he said when approached by reporters after the proceedings.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mohamed Shahrul Fazli Kamarulzaman, representing Ahmad Zahid, confirmed that he would also be a witness in the case.

On July 20, 2022, Dr Mahathir, 99, who is former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president, as the plaintiff, filed the lawsuit through Tetuan Haidir & Co in the High Court, naming 71-year-old Ahmad Zahid, who is also Umno president, as the defendant.

According to the statement of claim, Dr Mahathir said the defendant made false statements, laced with defamation and malicious intent, specifically referring to the plaintiff during the Umno Kelana Jaya Division Meeting on July 30, 2017.

The plaintiff genuinely believes that the defendant's reference in the defamatory statement as 'that person,' 'he,' and 'Mahathir, the son of Iskandar Kutty' explicitly refers to him.

Dr Mahathir reportedly said that Ahmad Zahid's malicious intent in issuing defamatory statements exposed him to dissatisfaction and hatred from the public.

Furthermore, he stated that Ahmad Zahid's defamatory statements implicitly question and cast doubt on his credibility to lead the country and the party that prioritises Malays as a whole. It is understood that he is considered a liar, untrustworthy, self-centred during his tenure in public office, and not qualified to be a leader or a community figure.

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